A Man In The Sun

This is an essay without reason. It emerges as a result of recent discussions with a friend and colleague about decolonialisation–what it means, how does it apply to various areas of human knowledge, and what can it mean for photography. Actually, this essay without reason emerges as a result of discussions at The Polis Project as we design a “Decolonise Photography” workshop series. Our discussions have led us to think about what new and different ways of seeing and doing could emerge in a documentary and photographic practice that recognises that “…the target of epistemic de-colonisation is the hidden complicity between the rhetoric of modernity and the logic of coloniality,” and is based on a need to learn to “unlearn” [See Walter Mignolo, Delinking: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of De-Coloniality, Cultural Studies, Volume 21, 2007].

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Rebel Cities: The Anti-Colonial Imagination & The Dilemmas of the Present

At the end of 2011 I stopped making photographs. I did not stop working as a photographer, but I stopped making the kinds of photographs I was making in India. Those were very special photographs.

From 2009 to 2011, my work on The Idea of India project, had been nothing short of a deeply ecstatic, emotional and powerfully creative experience. The process of researching, producing and struggling through the project, remains one of the most memorable experiences of my life. But it was a project that required considerable trust, and faith in luck and fate. It required relinquishing all expectations of results, all hope for finding what I was looking for, and all presumptions of planning and structure. In fact, I once wrote about how embracing doubt-as a verb and as a noun-remained central to the work itself.

It was doubt that made me leave the conventions of photojournalism and practice a different eye. It is doubt that keeps me asking, searching, wondering and growing as an individual and as a photographer. It is doubt that defines the seemingly random, apparently inconsistent trajectory of this project – precisely as I want it to be. Since beginning this work in late 2008, it has been doubt that has taken me into new worlds, and new understandings. It is doubt that has taken me to new photographs. And in the end it is doubt that I want this work to infect others with, to give them nothing more than an equal love of this act which realises that our worlds are far more beautiful, complex, complicated and varied than we were ever told.

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