This is the official announcement of the start of the Justice in Pakistan project.
The website above is a project work in progress website and it will reveal the unfolding and evolution of the project over the course of the next twelve months. I have recently arrived in Lahore and made a small studio and base of operations here. And I will admit that I am quite overwhelmed by the task I have set for myself, but at the same time I am quite certain that it will result in a unique work.
The entire project will be built around the stories from the lives of individual Pakistani citizens. I intend to travel to the homes of some of the most marginalized, dispossessed and oppressed members of our society. I want to hear their stories, and use their experiences to draw broader insights into questions of justice, ideas of injustice, and institutional and social structures that perpetuate injustices and violence.
Much like my previous project in India, this work is also an individual exploration. And the website will reflect the many different personal, creative, intellectual and photographic steps I will take along the way. For those looking for a more organized layout to the work, you can find a growing list of Categories at the top of the website to help you navigate around. Otherwise, just follow me as I move ahead, shifting from one topic to another, depending on whom I can convince to speak to me, which community I can access, or what book I happened to be interested in reading at the moment.
For the first time portraiture will be the central method. I have long wanted to produce a work around individual portraiture. I am working with an old Hasselblad, upgraded with a digital back, a tripod and a lot of time to sit with the people and speak to them. The portraits are based on our conversations, and emerge after some hours spent with the subject. They are a collaborative process, and at no time should be considered fortuitous. The sittings are carefully timed to be done when the subject has made it clear that they are prepared to offer themselves. This is something I have never tried before, and I suspect that it will not always work. But as with the rest of the issues that this project will bring up, I expect to continue to learn and improve and arrive at a place new.
I suspect that the work will not meet the interest of the broader photographic community. We seem to be in a world where gimmicks and tricks are the center of attention. This work is intentionally anachronistic given our times of fake filters and snapshot grabs. Not that I have not enjoyed playing with the same toys. But for this work I have wanted to away from the immediate hipness of a fake funky photograph, to a slower, older, more basic photographic method. It instead is being done to push and challenge me to concentrate on the rigor of approach, a patience of eye, and a consideration of the subject. In some ways, with all the hysteria around our new toys, I have felt a need to return to basic, and to remove all the clutter (technical, and otherwise), to keep myself working with a simple eye. And the issues that I want to understand.
I hope that you will come along, send me feedback, guide me where you think necessary. As in the work in India, I am once again in uncharted waters. I proceed with many doubts, and fears in my mind. The path ahead is unclear to me. The work and what will emerge a matter of chance, curiosity and creativity. There are nights when I am overcome with fear. Then there are days when it all seems to make sense. And so I proceed.