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The disappearing act

Veteran photographer Jyoti Bhatt’s images of rural India’s changing landscape

What: From intricately carved doors and painted walls to pots, pans and tribal folk, artist Jyoti Bhatt — who studied painting at MS Univ-ersity of Baroda — travelled across India, between 1967 to 1996, with his camera to archive the fast-disappearing traditions of folk and tribal communities. “The idea was to capture the visual expressions in their original setting along with people who inhabited these spaces. I’ve focussed on daily traditions, like wall paintings and rangolis that are perishable. I used photography as it is more immediate,” the 81-year-old artist reasons. He was often accompanied by fellow photographer Raghav Kaneria on his travels.

Women making a Samha Devi image, Haryana, 1977
Women making a Samha Devi image, Haryana, 1977

A young girl in front of mandana paintings, Rajasthan, 1970
A young girl in front of mandana paintings, Rajasthan, 1970

A Rathna tribal house, Gujarat, 1980.
A Rathna tribal house, Gujarat, 1980.

Children at the weekly market, Chhota Udaipur, Gujarat, 1971
Children at the weekly market, Chhota Udaipur, Gujarat, 1971

A tribal boy with a ceremonial mask, South Gujarat, 1987.
A tribal boy with a ceremonial mask, South Gujarat, 1987.

How: Working during the pre-globalisation and pre-digital era, Bhatt used a 35mm Nikon camera and covered parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar. “We used second-hand reels or leftover reels from movies. Since we didn’t use the same type of material, the image quality differed,” elaborates Bhatt. His photographs comprise natural shots as well as images of self-aware rural folk posing for the camera. “If the person is aware of the camera, you can capture the reaction and anthropologically, it becomes an important photograph,” he believes.

Durga, Mithila, 1977
Durga, Mithila, 1977

A village house, Rajasthan, 1979.
A village house, Rajasthan, 1979.

Where: Of the 60,000 images that Bhatt captured during his travels, Tasveer gallery selected 45 from the collection to form part of the photo-exhibit, Jyoti Bhatt: Photographs from Rural India. This is part of the Focus Photography Crossover Festival 2015.

A tiger and calf, Rajasthan, 1973.
A tiger and calf, Rajasthan, 1973. Pics courtesy/Jyoti Bhatt/Tasveer

Two girls from a farming community standing near the wall of their house, Rajasthan, 1988.
Two girls from a farming community standing near the wall of their house, Rajasthan, 1988.

From: March 12 (preview: 6 pm to 9 pm) to March 26 
Time: 11 am to 7 pm
At: Artisans’, 52-56 Dr VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda.
Call: 22673040

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