Edition 2007


Reflections of India

When, seated before his guru’s portrait, the elegant and ardent Raghu Rai talks of taking photographs, he easily admits that after a while he is spurred by an irrepressible feeling of happiness and giddiness and has a sudden urge to dance around his subject. With his eye screwed to his viewfinder, he inhabits the heart of a never-never land that fills him with joy and veneration. All-seeing Rai, in a natural, quasi organic symbiosis, resolves the equation of the three terms, “India”, “Humanity” and “Photography” where personal, artistic and mystical accomplishments mingle. At 65, filled with a wealth of euphoric alchemy, he encounters with a child-like sense of wonder the arrival of the digital age which offers him the opportunity of having absolute control over all the steps that go into the making of his prolific icons. It is certainly thanks to his unrivalled talent as master of the house – faithfully reflecting our most secret wishes or regrets – that India still merits being “immortalized” on film today. Alain Willaume

To me the camera is an instrument of learning. When you look through it, you start achieving a kind of concentration. In these concentrated moments you can penetrate and discover the unseen and the unknown. It’s a learning of the self and the world. […] As I learn about the life click by click, the desire at the end in those moments of fulfilment is to liberate yourself by cutting free of needs and demands, emotions and excitements that we react to so strongly. […] All that you are in these moments, get reflected through your work – so you reflect as a clean mirror. […] I believe that the photographer’s job is to cut a frame-sized slice out of the world around him, so faithfully and honestly that if he were to put it back again, life and the world would begin to move without a stutter. My goal now is not so much about “good photography”; it is to go beyond acquired styles and address life itself. […] They say a good photograph is worth a thousand words. A thousand words can be a lot of noise. How about some silence – a moment in space which is non-negotiable. Stories have been told and retold in many different ways through words and photographs, but silence happens rarely.[…] As India contains within itself an extremely diverse landscape and diverse weather apart from being a multi-lingual and multi-cultured religious society, and the most amazing aspect here is that several centuries have learnt to live side by side at the same time. So the images must speak these complexities through a multi-layered experience. And at its best an image is a photo-history of our time. India is, for me, the whole world, an ocean of life – churning day in day out! The same spot is never the same again. The relevant and the irrelevant separate to merge again. The secret is to capture the amalgam of so many lives lived in different times. At times different meditations merge into one, and they gather in single space, simply a spontaneous collation of circumstances. I stand amid this human deluge trying to untangle the merging and emerging of various colours, the myriad hues of every emotion, set in motion by each charge and recharge. It energizes and enriches itself, the restless and restful fluid their home in me. The inadequate wishes there were four or five of me, it is life’s longing for itself that makes me go on, the emergence of the unseen and revelation of the unknown leaves me amazed!!! An experience becomes a Darshan1.
What a country of mine!!!!
Raghu Rai

1. Darshan: Sanskrit, “conversation with god”. In practical terms, a conversation with a guru.

Exhibition organised with the backing of HP. Prints produced by Dupon Digital Lab. A coproduction of Rencontres d’Arles and Fundación Tres Culturas del Mediterráneo, Seville (Spain).

Exhibition presented at the Palais de l’Archevêché.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture