In this assignment, you’re going to work in response to a theme. A theme is more nuanced and you can bring your own personal interpretation to it because you’ll have your own experiences, thoughts, and feelings about it. Responding to a theme photographically will help you to elicit your own ideas and make them visual. If you want to set yourself your own theme, that’s fine. Otherwise, choose from this list:
• Domestic • Power struggle • Pause • The unbearable lightness of being.
For this assignment create a series of 3-5 still-life photographs based on a theme. To accompany your photograph, write approximately one-page of text explaining: • your theme • your choice of background, objects and subjects • the visual and conceptual reasons behind these choices • your choice of light and/or time of day • how you think the objects interact to give the viewer the impression you want them to have. Send your final image(s) and your text to your tutor.
My approach: Still life was a completely new and unexplored territory for me – one that had to be very carefully looked at in order to understand its nuances. I struggled with it to begin with but more or less began to understand it somewhat along the way. It was good learning for me once I got down to it. As I approached the final assignment though, I somehow had a hard time deciding upon a subject that will satisfy my creative ideas. Ideas were many but nothing came to my mind despite my genuine concern to getting down to it. After attempting one of the previous exercises called “Emulation” I was at least sure that I wanted to choose either a vegetable or a fruit for my final choice of subject. Well, to cut a long story short, I wasted a lot of time trying to find a subject that will speak to me. Many visits to the vegetable market followed to no avail. I even experimented with a few trying to get my theme across but nothing exceptional happened. Everything left me disappointed and feeling that I haven’t been able to do justice to it.
My search finally ended the day a piece of Thai ginger spoke to me from the imported goods section of the market. I had finally found the object and it literally spoke to me like I had wished all along. So here it is, my subject and I, taking you through a sequence called “Domestic violence”, starring a non-domestic central character.
My theme is nothing new; rather it is something which is, on the contrary, a smaller part of a much larger theme – crimes against women. Domestic violence is something that is not only commonplace in my country but on the increase. India is now termed to be one of the most unsafe places on the planet for women with crimes like eve-teasing, molestation, child-marriages, acid –attacks, revenge-killings, honor-killings, and rapes, at an all-time high.
I have chosen 7 images for my final series. I will try and explain each one of them with a caption to make it easier for the viewer to understand each one of them.
The reason I chose Thai ginger as my object for my theme was that it had everything that I was looking for to convey in my end story. It was an interesting shape, a one close to a living being, though a lot of vegetables have some likeness to human forms when we start looking at it, this one, in particular, had the exact multi-dimensionality that I was seeking. An interesting and unusual shape, multi-layered, areas of interest and a likeness to not exactly a human form, but a kind of an alien-form, which was good enough to be used for my subject, a subject of domestic violence, who by the end of it is left so disfigured that it’s hard to tell if they are human at all. All in all, it seemed perfect for what I wanted to portray.
I chose to use a 105mm macro lens for this as I didn’t want to show images that were tack-sharp and focused. I wanted to show a level of abstract – of the object merging with the background or seemingly emerging out of it. I have kept the object inside a white cube to cut out all other background and have used a single source of diffused light. I chose this to show that there is no time of the day or night for these crimes. Domestic violence is something that is meted out at a woman for no fault of hers and irrespective of the time.
Through the positioning of the ginger in various ways and zooming in and emphasizing certain areas, I have tried to depict an entity, its fear, its cries for mercy, its wounds, the psychological impact and its eventual death. The shape of the object in question is ideal as it hints at a living form and has many layers and protrusions, along with textures that add and build up to my story. I have kept this story consciuosly in monochrome as there is little colour in the lives of the victim.