Wednesday 20 November 2019

The Sartorialist: India

I'm most sceptical when it comes to blurbs, generally speaking, that is, for they are often simply promotional texts with not much relevance in regards to the books they aim to sell. To state however that Scott Schuman's The Sartorialist: India represents an "intoxicating mix of color, pattern, and texture " and "a photographic tribute to the country's diversity and splendor", captures the essence of this formidable tome nicely.

Beautiful, amazing, superb, was my first reaction when having a first glance at the photographs. And, needless to say, almost immediately the three weeks that I once spent in Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Agra and places in between came to mind. Most prominently I recall the many elegantly and colourfully dressed women. Yet, aside from women, men and youngsters, The Sartorialist: India also shows beach scenes, a temple door, a lamppost and other sights (for their design or coulours or both) that Scott Schuman deemed worth framing.
Mumbai, Maharashtra

Bandana Tewari, a former fashion features editor and now editor-at-large at Vogue India, contributed an excellently written piece full of insights. "He knows India is what it is, whether he photographs it or not. He doesn't moralize the fierce contradictions that are India: he doesn't pretend to understand them, either. What he does, authentically, is focus on the uplifting and the banal, the cinematic and the realistic, in equal measure.. He captures what India truly is – a storm in our senses." 

Schuman does what photographers (and, by the way, everybody else) should do. Observe. Give testimony. "On my first trip to India in 2008 to cover fashion week in Delhi, it was immediately apparent that while the looks on the runway were good, the style of the editors and people attending the shows was even better, and better yet was the chaotic complex street life I saw out of my car window on my way to the fashion shows. The mash-up of new and old, rich and poor, transient and immobile is stronger in India than almost anywhere else in the world. It was love at first sight!"
Jadhpur, Rajasthan /  Balatra, Rajasthan

There is of course no better way of photographing than photographing what you love. For a loving eye looks differently. I feel intrigued by the variety of people, dresses, postures, scenes and colours, colours, colours (there are also remarkable shots in black and white 'though) displayed in this tome.

We are not told who these people are, what they do for a living, how they spend their lives. This is not a book of reportage or about the stories behind the pictures. These photographs give testimony of how a man with a camera decided to frame what his eyes were showing him. Pictures do not tell stories, pictures trigger our imagination. The pictures in this beautifully done book make me want to go to India again.
Pushkar, Rajasthan / New Delhi, Delhi

Scott Schuman
The Sartorialist: India
English, Deutsch, Français
Taschen, Cologne 2019

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