During a Photo Tour in Venice I always say to my students: “Be careful because in Venice every corner is a picture, and the risk is to be too obvious.” And that was exactly the same in Kolkata!
Kolkata in India lies on the banks of the Hooghly River, and is a city with many different faces. It ‘was the city of the great intellectuals and Nobel laureates, like the poet Tagore for example, just to name one. During my reportages, from which it is then published my photo book “Calcutta”, I was lucky enough to work, together with an architect of the place, who took care of the restoration of the heritages buildings of Kolkata. During the British colonial period, Kolkata was one of the first ports connecting India and Britain and even today it is the city where the Victorian tradition is more alive than elsewhere. I photographed a lot inside the houses, exactly as I sometimes do during the Photo Tour in Venice, because that gives me the idea of what real life looks like. Details, objects, memories. I printed and brought with me the pictures I took during my reportages in Kolkata and, thanks to them, all the doors of these buildings were open again, and students following me could live for a while ‘in close contact with the locals.
In the south of Calcutta, it is the Kalighat Kali Temple, a complex of Hindu temples dedicated to the goddess Kali, the patron deity of the city but also the destruction, depicted with large orange eyes and a long golden tongue. As often it happens, even in the temple of the goddess Kali, the most interesting photographically part is takes place outside and around of the temple itself.
We plunged into the chaos of Barrabazar, the largest market in Calcutta near the iron bridge on Hoogly river where we found and photographed everything: sellers of spices and dischargers of lorries. Sometimes I thaught when, during a Photowalk Venice, or during a Leica Akademie in Venice, I was with students in the early morning at the Rialto market, especially in summer. Chaos, crying, work, effort, so many photographic opportunities that we no longer know where to look….
As you can understand, there no place in the world that moved me more than Kolkata.
Have a look at my pictures and you will understand why.