"Something has Already Happened" is the title of the photo essay I contributed to Writing Places - an anthology of words & images inspired by residencies in Kolkata & Norwich, & published in Autumn 2019 by Seagull Books. The residencies were organised by the National Centre for Writing in Norwich, supported by the British Council & Arts Council England's Reimagine India Fund.
Life is played out on the streets of Kolkata. It spills over abundantly, squeezing into every crevice, straining boundaries, fraying at the edges where it is most vulnerable. The past & the present intersect, confronting each other, jostling for position on this public stage, where daily activities mingle with sacred rituals, commerce, festivals & business.
Layer upon layer, frame after frame – the narratives that unfold each day leave their mark. But over time, as the layers peel away, what was once concealed is subsequently revealed; urban infrastructure & the force of nature collide. Beauty & decay are never far apart.
My relationship with Kolkata is fragile; we’ve only recently become acquainted. A stranger in this city, I relish the freedom that offers: the frisson of being elsewhere, of not knowing, & of not being known. I seek out a sense of rhythm within the frame of the city. I look for drama, engagement & emotion. I search for some definition within the hubbub; the fragment of a story, a means of containing the action.
I’m drawn to solitary figures, lost in a moment of reflection as they move through the city. I look for split seconds of connection amongst the crowds. At other times it is a sense of absence which draws me. The past & the present in conversation - a suggestion of what might have been.