Jeetin had no inkling that by doing what any good family man would do, that is photograph his son Arnav, he would be doing more than just discovering a means of expression in which he excels today. In fact he did far more – he renewed a photographic genre which, though it had not become obsolete, had become shrouded in sickly sentimentality. Being as good as gold is not part of the Sharma family style where the word “baby” is definitely not associated with being “soppy”! In fact, very rapidly things get a little more complicated when little sister Anya joins the circus. The two little booming, technophile beings fidget about in their higgledy-piggledy backdrop of a world. The questions they raise are far larger than they are: ambiguous games, too black a humour, or just rosy dreams Just light touches and shudders, sheer panic or nervous laughter. Danger skims the surface of these diabolically masterful images where “another story” lurks abound.
ARNAV & ANYA
In 2005, I began photographing my son, Arnav when he turned three. My daughter Anya had just arrived in our lives. Watching Arnav was in a way watching my childhood replay itself. I was intrigued by his habits and his relationship with the world he was exposed to. At the time, although I was familiar with photography, I had never attempted to make images, which were personal to me. Photographing my son became a way of exploring and documenting my own domestic space. I included Anya in the photographs as soon as she became aware of her own surroundings.
Arnav and Anya’s relationship, their awareness of each other presented many situations I could photograph. The comfort with which they wander about naked, unaware of most adult discomfort with the naked body was interesting to observe. The unpredictability with which Arnav can go from playing an aggressive ’Power Ranger’ to the protective ’Hanuman’ (an Indian God), or even his curiosity about why his mother’s body is so different from his or mine. And as they both explore, play, wander and wonder I observe and photograph, alternating between being a father and a photographer. Set against some mundane ritual of everyday life, my photographs reflect on the beginnings of curiosity and just how much we are shaped by our immediate domestic environment. Some staged, some candid portraits, but all inspired by my children.
My photographs present a basic middle-class childhood in India today. Arnav’s obsession with the dinosaurs, Barbie dolls, guns and Hanuman is reflective of the mixed influences, both western and Indian, which is a common phenomena in many Indian families today.
Projection produced in collaboration with Photoink.
Exhibition projected at the Atelier des Forges, Parc des Ateliers.
Executive producer: Le Tambour Qui Parle.