26 October 2008

The ghost of India past

Rotted fabric cover on palanquin
Old India recedes further into the past. Here, in an old palace in Gujarat, a fabric cover over a palanquin gradually disintegrates among the earthquake- and cyclone-ravaged ruins. Colours fade and return to the colours of dust, of age, and loss.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor


Lesley said...

Pete: It was a moment before I registered that this wasn't a monochrome. What beautiful decoration there appears to have been on the woodwork. I'd never before thought of loss as something that might have colour, but yes, you're right. Here it is, difficult to describe in words, but eloquently expressed by this cloth. Even the wood is beginning to take on the same shade.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Lesley. I was privileged to see some beautiful items there. Sadly, despite the best intentions of the owner, many seem destined to crumble to dust.

Relatively Retiring said...

Another opportunity for Tate Modern? This seems to have a sculptural quality, and I realise that I keep seeing other art forms in your photography,
Presumably the rats have also left their marks? There was a terrible but fascinating radio feature yesterday about the plagues of rats about to descend on the flowering bamboos of Northern India. I imagine (although it pretty grim to do so) that earthquakes and cyclones also create rat-paradise. This deceptively simple and almost monochrome study opens up a world of thought.

Emma said...

This photo captures what I love most about photography: a bone-deep recognition of a thing that may or may not actually exist. A primal sort of kinship. In my memory, this is the way I see my grandparents' home, where I stayed for a couple of weeks every summer.* A photo like this means more or less the same thing in every culture, I think. It's something all (or most) of us can taste and feel.

*It was nowhere near this disintegrated in reality, I'm sure, but the shock of coming from a suburb (albeit a "bad" one) in the U.S. to a crumbling house in rural Mexico was always tremendous for the first two days or so.

pohanginapete said...

RR, many places I visited in India seemed to be a rat paradise. Some of the rats I saw were rather impressive beasts, too. However, I think most of the gnawing in this photo was of insect rather than mammalian origin. I recognise it because I have one or two T-shirts with similar damage... ;^)

Emma, you're right, there is something primal about this. When I saw it, the urge to photograph it felt intense; I knew I needed to share it, to show it to friends. Somehow I knew that at least some of those friends would recognise whatever it was I saw — what I felt — yet couldn't say.