The story of the unnamed

Photographer Samar Singh Jodha pursued the 2010 Commonwealth Games, focussing his lens on labourers who were building grand stadiums while living on garbage dumps. His work, Whose Wealth? Whose Common? is on display

Why did you pursue this subject?
Since the 1990s, my work has revolved around conflict issues and areas -- North East India, different regions of South Asia, the Middle East and East Africa. This exhibition is part of a migrant workers' project I have been following in South Asia and the Middle East. It is about development, mindless urbanisation and the new consumer culture that's at odds with the traditional way of life and a population losing its land, water, forest rights and the environmental cost it pays. 

What did you want to achieve through Whose Wealth? Whose Commons?

I was not really interested in half-built stadiums and infrastructure -- which was well covered by the media. It was nearly impossible to get in there since the mainstream media was digging up a lot of dirt on the CWG. My work was focussed on the lives of migrant workers, who were part of contract workers registers �totally nameless and faceless. I wished for a tribute paid in terms of an art or public piece that showcased the people behind the glory.

Why haven't you identified the people in the photographs?
Apart from the unidentified photos, I did make a list of names whom I was going to photograph. Sadly, before I could take their pictures, they were suddenly removed. I think this happened because of the fear that the foreign press would get hold of them and destroy the CWG "extravaganza".
Also, permissions to get into labour camps (to take pictures) was impossible although Tehelka helped me get into some of them. The rest of the time, I had to sneak in before being thrown out by the security.

At: Sakshi Art Gallery, Synergy Art Foundation Ltd., Tanna House, 11, Nathalal Parekh Marg, Colaba. Till September 25
Call: 66103424

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