India is a strange country. You come back without being fully aware of what you really saw. Everything that seems real is not. And everything that appears as imbued with supernatural well and truly exists. This doubtful situation is in fact the uncertainty of street photography: everything goes too fast, constantly appears and disappears in the viewfinder as visions we try to capture, following the impulses of our unconscious. Nothing is more beautiful than the apparent banality, behind which we sometimes discover another world, invisible if we don’t take the time to look at it, to open our eyes to detect its mysteries and symbols that move out of the shadows into the limelight for a moment, before vanishing.
Thierry Clech is a photographer and writer based in Paris. He uses silver based photography and his pictures are exclusively in black and white. Clech’s work from India, Japan, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Havana, and Africa has been shown and published in France and abroad.
From the text by Thierry Clech: It is unclear whether this country emanates from a dream or a nightmare, whether one watches over it or sleeps within it, to the point of being convinced that one has seen what is not there, or of imagining oneself to be the victim of a delusion in the face of the tangible apparition of Indian horrors and lunacies.
This crazy and perpetual swarming of the subcontinent’s cities as soon as dawn breaks, amid the smell that cannot be defined, at least not without breaking it down into its elements—spices, sewage, sweat, urine, incense, cardamom, burning garbage, the mildew of the stones after the monsoon, fried food, jasmine—this blaring bedlam on asphalt cloaked in the acrid, torrid smoke of the exhaust pipes—archaic buses, dying cars, rickshaws patched up a hundred times over—this concert of anarchic horns that, in warning about everything no longer warns of anything, in the evening it all collapses into silence to contemplate water and fire in Mumbai, Pondicherry, Chennai, Haridwar, facing the Ganges, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, or the Bay of Bengal. The grand spectacle that occurs when the sun sets, each day it is as if they are seeing it for the first or last time, dressed in their multicolored saris, their rags, and those white skirts that the men fold up and tie over their thin chocolate thighs, evoking a type of swaddling.
And when, at dusk, the star of the sea and the river dwindles behind the horizon and they light their rudimentary candles—clarified butter and cotton wick—and deposit them on the waves in flower bowls, these hundreds of small flames seem to reflect the brightness of the stars scattered across the celestial vault. Lights that ricochet, from the heart of darkness, through the universe and across eternity.
Thierry Clech : Indian Lights
Travels Across a Mystic Country
Published by Kehrer Verlag
Design: Kehrer Design (July Mollik)
16,5 x 24
64 duotone illustrations
Autographed copies can be ordered directly from the photographer, as well as 30 copies of the deluxe print (book + 16.5 x 24 signed & numbered print).