Jerusalem for me is Religion. Roots. Belonging. Nostalgia. Tradition
– Parthiv Shah
Indian Photographer Parthiv Shah is an alumnus of the National Institute of Design, India. Having grown up in a family of artists, and through his own professional training, he brings an interesting intersection of art, photography, and design to his work. He is interested in image perception and representation. His visual journeys have led him into working with communities that are finding a mainstream voice.
Parthiv Shah has been the recipient of several awards including a senior fellowship in Photography by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Charles Wallace Fellowship, UK, and Fulbright Lectureship award to teach photography at the UCLA, USA. He is the Founder-Director of the Centre for Media and Alternative Communication (CMAC). Lately, Parthiv has been particularly interested and engaged in working on the issue of image perception and representation. He has made several documentary films, curated and participated in many photo exhibitions across the world, and has several photo-books to his credit. Shah’s photographs have been exhibited at leading world galleries, including the Durban Art Gallery and Sandton Art Centre, South Africa; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Chhobi Mela, Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Photo-Expo Asia-2, Bangkok, as well as in India, Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Russia, and the U.S. His photographs are in the collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; Minge Kan, Japan; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.; University of California, U.S.; Australian Arts Council, Australia; Philadelphia Museum of Art, U.S., as well as in private collations, such as Christo, New York, and Issey Miyake, Japan. His books include Figures, Facts, Feelings: A Direct Diasporic Dialogue, published by CMAC, 2000; Working in the Mill No More, published by the Oxford University Press and Amsterdam University Press, 2004; Kaaya – Beyond Gender, published by CMAC, 2005; and Art as Witness, written with Sana Das and published by Tulika Books, 2010. Shah was invited as a visiting scholar at the SOAS, London University, and at the University of California, Davis. Shah lives and works in New Delhi.
Jerusalem photo series was done by Parthiv Shah in the year 2017. Quoting from the thoughtful artist statement about the series:
“…the story of exile…closes in; on the freedom of our minds, our breath, our thoughts, our prayers…”
– The Walled City, Esther David
A melting pot of buried histories, a story of faith and freedom, the city of Jerusalem intrigued my senses. It was most, unlike a city one would normally imagine. This surreal city is one, full of utter candor, emotion, love, and beauty. The mix of modernity and tradition, peace and tumult, for me, made the city very challenging, yet interesting to interpret.
A city annihilated, conquered, built and crushed, then rebuilt, again and again, is full of life even today even in the smallest nooks and crannies of its winding alleys. The idea of birth and rebirth is very important in the culture of this city, which is also seen in the ideals of religions it encapsulates. The very soul of Jerusalem has transmigrated through the faith of its people. This metaphor of metempsychosis found all across the city and its history is truly invigorating.
A city whose history is buried in the several layers of its soft Senonian limestone, tells the stories of various faiths, religions, and conflicts. The people and the monuments here have witnessed some of the most breathtaking moments in human history. The bustling life bears witness to the multifarious cultures that have thrived here in my documentation.
The inhabitants of this city, while deeply entrenched in their faiths have immense loyalty to the city and its life. The juxtaposing stories of the people and how they survive in their day-to-day lives. Understanding the complexity of these lives, yet the simple ways these people choose to live them is an important part of the way I have presented the images. The traversing paths and contrasting lives of these individuals tell us numerous tales of joy and despair, happiness and mourning, freedom and restriction, and make us think about the varied lenses they live their lives through.