I’ve just returned from helping to run the India chapter of this international project in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives.
Look out for the full stories on the project website: http://throughpositiveeyes.org/
One of 14 HIV+ve participants, Anthony rendered his life story in a series of paper cut-out shadow photographs. Working until four in the morning over many nights and using just paper and a torch he has taken photography right back to its origins by fixing a shadow cast upon a sheet of paper. His images have the directness of photograms and produce a compellingly parred down narrative of survival.
Visiting her one room home I was particularly taken by the screen around her shrine. She told me it was there to avoid offending passing Muslim neighbours in the busy alley outside. This sparked a whole discussion about how she navigates her multiple identities as a man, a woman and as a Hindu and a Muslim while remaining within society and her community.
She acts these out for us in a documentary performance which is intimate and confident but without histrionics or vanity.
Priya was unwell during the project but despite or perhaps because of this she still produced the single image which has most invaded my heart. She photographs herself asleep with her two month old goat showing us the simple need we all have for warmth, comfort and affection.
Hari comes from a military background. He’s a national wrestling champion and is boldly public about his HIV status.
His work contrasts gentle and nuanced photos of his domestic family life with titanic sculptural images from the wrestling ring, many shot with one hand while he was actually wrestling.
Manisha gently and elegantly enacts aspects of her life using her home as a backdrop. She dresses and poses for us, carefully setting out her emotional, social, political and working personas.
There is a melancholy, a thoughtful sadness about Raju’s images. They speak of loss and separation but also of continued life. In this symbolic still life each chickpea represents a year of being alone since he amicably separated from his wife.
This is a love story. Renuka married her husband in full knowledge of his status. She has taken stunning images of her family and celebrates her marriage by exquisitely and delightfully re-staging her wedding photos.