Note: This is the final version of "an India." A "proof" version of this book received an Honorable Mention in the PBN 2011 Competition. This is the same book (with a new cover) that has been adjusted to better reproduce the photographs.
I went to India to look at common things—houses and temples; people sitting, walking, working, worshipping; rivers, mountains, and trees; streets and shops; goddesses and gods; signs, pictures, and patterns; the sunrise; the places and happenings of each day—and to make pictures of them. Composed through a tripod-anchored rangefinder, I recorded thousands of scenes on the plain medium of black and white film (almost anachronistic at this point).
I traveled to India three times between late 1998 and early 2002, spending over seven months moving widely about the country—from Chamba in the north, to Gawahati and Calcutta in the east, Kanyakumari at the southern tip, and Junagadh and Palitana in the west. There were many places in between, and a couple of months were spent, off and on, in Mumbai. These were not my first trips to India, and although I have not returned since, I hope they won’t be my last.
These pictures are the result of many things, not least of which was perseverance—of walking, pushing on to new places, of walking some more, and continuing to look, with care, at the obvious. The pictures have been arranged with consideration for their subjects, places depicted, and visual relationships.
These are pictures of a loved one, India. I’ve choreographed them to convey some sense of her complexity, dignity, charm, ordinariness, contrariness, majestic depth, and mundane squalor—the confluence of the plain, the savory, and the hard to swallow—creating the unfathomable flavor of her beauty.
Mark Paul Petrick