Herald: Looking at life through the lens
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Looking at life through the lens

31 Jan 2015 10:44pm IST

Report by
Patricia Ann Alvares

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31 Jan 2015 10:44pm IST

Report by
Patricia Ann Alvares

A recent nominee of the prestigious Magnum Photos, Sohrab Hura’s photographs are known for their unconventionality and raw emotion. His deeply personal project ‘Life is Elsewhere’, which is being showcased at Sensorium is a journal of photos, letters and notes by the artiste

As a young lad when Sohrab Hura saw a book on Magnum photographers, he confided to his mother he wanted to see himself in that book one day.  By 32 he achieved this dream, joining the prestigious list of nominees of Magnum Photos, the international photographic co-operative co-founded by Henri Cartier Bresson. “I have been very lucky to have been given this opportunity. It means that I have to work a lot harder irrespective of whether I get to stay on as a nominee or graduate or asked to leave at the end of the two years of my nominee period,” says this self-effacing photographer whose images are defined by the unconventional, raw and pulsing with emotion.

Taking a detour from economics where he earned a Masters, Sohrab took to photography, in college itself, as a tool to say something. “It is important for me to get to what I want to say as close and precisely as possible and allow my photography to evolve accordingly in as organic a way as possible.” Chipping away at an idea till it takes form, he also enjoys playing with the medium itself to tell a story.  Initially commencing with black and white, he now moves across different formats depending on his subject.  Today this Delhi-based, Bengali photographer is passing on the finer nuance of his work as the coordinator of the Anjali House Children’s Photography workshop conducted during the annual Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia.

Coincidentally, part of his work is rooted in his studies in economics. “I have worked in rural India for a good part of my photography life. What started off as a social documentation has also allowed space for me to look at fiction or something intangible like the summer heat and other ways of telling stories.  Apart from this I have been working along the coast as well and have some old work along a river. A little of my work is now on my magnum page and more will be on it soon,” he explains.

His book ‘Life is Elsewhere’, a first of the two books from the work ‘Sweet Life’, is however a deeply personal project.  Coming to terms with his mother’s schizophrenia, an illness she was diagnosed with when he was just nineteen, the project has perhaps unconsciously so been a cathartic one as well.  “

I guess it was a cathartic experience, I haven't been so conscious of it but yes everything feels normal to me now as compared to many years ago so I can only assume that it was,” he shares.   The book itself was not really started consciously so in the beginning, but came together as time passed. “

I just kept making photos and once I had enough to look at the connections, they were made consciously, and from there on of course it was all deliberate. Over time old writings and current became a part of the project,” he says of his installation at the ongoing Sensorium.  Down in Goa for the launch of the book he plans to explain this project in greater depth. 

In documenting the broken fragments of his life, his book which by his own admission is one of contradictions and doubts; understandings and laughter, is indeed a journey to reconciliation and a Life Elsewhere.

(Sohrab Hura’s book ‘Life is Elsewhere’ will be launched at Sunaparanta on February 3, 2015 at 7pm.  It will be introduced by Siddharth Shanghvi and Isheta Salgaocar)

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