TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY / PHOTO ESSAYS : 2009
RITES OF URBAN DISCONTENT: A photo essay on Squatters in Barcelona, Spain.
Author Robert Neuwirth suggests that there are one billion squatters globally, that is, about one in every seven people on the planet. Yet, squatting is largely absent from policy and academic debate and is rarely conceptualized, as a problem, as a symptom, or as a social or housing movement.
Squatters occupying a large abandoned factory in a town outside Barcelona.
At La Otra Carboneria, an entire residential building occupied by squatters.
Living there are artists, circus performers and musicians. They make their presence felt in the neighbourhood through their Social Centre that runs free workshops in dance, screen printing, theatre, art, yoga ; organise cheap community dinners with screening of films, poetry recitals and music performances. Running an open library, and a clothes recycling setup they create support in the local community.
The Okupa movement in Spain has thrown up various popular bands like Ojos De Brujos, and breeds artists who do not wish to operate under market constraints.
Their place in the societal structure is a complex one, since the Okupa movement is open and welcoming to immigrants, with an alternate youth culture that is overtly anti-capitalist, pro immigrant rights, living outside of the regular economy. Most of them are homeless or are politically motivated, and have been fighting gentrification and police repression for years.
Barcelona’s squatters state that occupying buildings is a means of denouncing real estate speculation. Over the past decade, the price of housing has doubled, rents turned astronomical. But as fast as the city evicts the occupants of squatter houses, new ones pop up: 40 evictions for every 40 occupations in a year, according to a report by the Catalan police.
Public art performances by squatters:
Carol, leaving home for a public performance on capitalism as crisis.
Circus artists at a performance.
PHOTO ESSAY ON BHAGAVATA MELA:
The village of Melattur, 18 kms from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, considered to be the cradle of Tamil culture, sees a spurt of activity every summer during the Bhagavata Mela Nataka Utsav organised in the sannidhi of Lord Sri Varadaraja, the presiding diety of the village on the occasion of Sri Narasimha Jayanti.
A photo essay on the festival, shot while assisting a documentary on the Bhagavatamela by B. Kailasam.
The head of the family that performs the Nataka, in a trance.
Photography for a travel magazine in Sikkim:
Photography for a book cover: