No Such Thing As A Real Orient

Project Description

Edward Said conceived of “the Orient” as an entity constituted by the discoursive practices and literary schemes of “Orientalism”. At the same time he argued against essentializing notions of both “the West” and “the Orient”. He insisted that “there is no such thing as a real or true Orient” and that there is no necessary privilege of an “insider” perspective over an “outsider” one.

Contemporary India is largely still represented in Western imagery as the land of snake charmers and elephants , card-tricksters and mesmerists. Indians are seen as highly susceptible to the influence of legends and gossip. What supposedly grows best in the humid heat   of afternoon siestas is fantasy, unreason and lust. Myths, nightmares and fantasies are in the air. As Salman Rushdie has once put it , “the country is itself a sort of dream”.

This excessively romantic approach needs to be reconciled with the realities of one of the fastest growing economies worldwide, with social inequality and deep poverty for big parts of the population.

My images, the product of several trips to the subcontinent since 2008,  are fragments of this complex and multilayered reality, a personal documentary of the place and my reaction to its atmosphere.