There is an Indian fable that tells the story of six blind men who were wise beyond their years, so much so that people came from across the land to ask for their wisdom on life. One day they were walking through the jungle when a loud beast presented itself in front of them. They were almost sure it was an elephant, so they walked up to the creature to feel it for themselves and get a sense of what an elephant was like. Each of them approached the elephant from a different angle: one feeling the spiky tusk, the other the wall of the belly, and so on. Consequently they argued about what an elephant looked like, as from each of their perspectives it felt very different – proof that even the wisest of people can be both wrong and right at the same time.
The Empty Quarter’s exhibition is named after this fable because to offer a comprehensive survey of contemporary Indian photography would be near impossible. The vast, varied and visually arresting country is like a kaleidoscope: everywhere you turn there is another story, another opinion, another set of people. Just like the blind men, each of these Indian photographers – living in India and abroad – feels a different elephant and everyone experiences a different India.‘Sampling India: Of Blind Men & Elephants’ continues at The Empty Quarter, DIFC until July 31.
Mahesh Shantaram, 34, from Bangalore
Using landscape photography as a form of social documentary, Mahesh’s series, ‘Matrimania’, shows the mess people leave behind after weddings. His vision is of a modern, nostalgia-free India and he celebrates the mundane, not the exotic.