The third photographic documentationof the landscape of Manikarnika Cremation Ghat, Varanasi, is a collection of portraits of family members within its environs. As a sacred site, its general demeanour is spartan to say the least. It is largely a series of terraced steps which lead down through the debris of previous cremation rituals to the river Ganges below, a river considered to be a living Goddess though in reality is an inordinately polluted riverway. There are a number of separate areas and waiting spaces, all constructed in concrete and blackened by the soot from the fires.
Dotted amongst the families are the white clad Kartas, the oldest male relatives. Sometimes they isolate themselves, leaving the remaining family members sitting mostly on the terraces as the cremations roll relentlessly on. The wait can be up to 8 hours. Most people I approached were very happy to be photographed. The camera was a Sigma DP2 Merril, capable of astonishing quality but unpredictable colour balance.
Buying a new camera with a modern technological profile does not mean that you, as a photographer, have not been in a similar situation before. A camera is just essentially a hollow receptacle ( a box that captures light ), and the medium, although changing from the emulsion of film to the plastic and silicon of a sensor and memory card, may not really be quite so different either. There is perhaps an ultimate equivalence in purchasing a medium format digital camera to replace a film medium format camera. There may also be a surprisingly similar equivalence to swapping out a large format film camera for a medium format, digital camera, such is the quality now obtainable.
Flowers please the mind and grant prosperity. Hence, men with righteous deeds bestowed the name Sumana on them
The Mahabharata book 13, Anusasana Parva Chapter 101, verses 19-21
Situated under the famous Howrah Bridge in Kolkata, the flower market is a riot of colour, hard working characters and testament to the role of flowers within the Hindu world. One of the largest markets in India, its products are at the heart of the majority of ritual and worship in the West Bengal area.
One of the charms of visiting different cultures is exploring the hidden nooks and crannies and discovering areas of well used and tarnished, but living, cultural landscapes. One of those areas could once be found in the old harbour area of Tangiers, a centuries old sanctuary of buccaneering. The harbour once contained a boat repair yard which was a veritable graveyard for unrepairable boats and a busy, noise filled area for boats actually being repaired. All boats would be monolithic chunks of sculpted wood designed to survive the uncompromising seas, tides and weathers around the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea.
All the boats contained veritable scars and welts from their travails; battered and split wooden hulls, scratched and striated coats of paint demonstrating different levels of decay. The repair process was arduous and time-consuming, though boat owners, chandlers and carpenters never seemed in a hurry. There was a timelessness and the yard seemed exactly the same irrespective of the number of times visited or the months between each visit.
My last visit there was several years ago where I met a friend Liesbeth and we ate mackerel from one of the small cafes that lined its walls. As we ate, the bite from the sea salt on the breeze merged with the smell of wood and tarps, and the the heavy smell of diesel. What sprang out from this semi-industrial landscape was the adornment of colours and writings on the hulls of many of the boats. It was like a picture gallery.
The Moroccan king Mohammed 6 visited Essaouira just a few weeks ago. This is a feature installed for that visit down near the docks. The words below are from the song The King Will Come recorded by Wishbone Ash.
Mellahs across Morocco have become synonomous with urban decay, poverty and increased risk. There is nothing different about the Mellah in Essaouira. Although culturally rich it has become neglected and necrosed. Here are some photographs at dusk portraying some of its inhabitants who walk through its narrow lanes every day.