Through October 20, 2012
A trilogy of work on India completes with Fazal Sheikh's Ether
series. Earlier segments, Moksha
(2005) and Ladli
(2007), were driven by human rights and social injustice issues, but Ether
is markedly different. Speaking calmly and quietly, we are allowed to look with quiet reflection. Two states of life pass before the lens in this work- birth and death. Dreamlike states too are captured- sleep and dream. The prints that compose the series, there are over 40, were all taken in the sakred city of Varanasi. The cultural and spiritual center is also known commonly as Banaras or Banares and is significant for its location. Set at the bank of the River Ganges in Northern India the city, and the river, are believed to free the soul from the cycle of reincarnation. A body left on the river bead is believed to allow the soul to return to its five elements- earth, fire, water, air, and aether.
In this Sheik's first foray into color photography he seeks to visualize the state of aether (ether). This element and the places to which it relates are personal and internal. Sheik captures the beginnings and endings of the life cycle- with infants in maternity wards and memorials at the river's edge. Sleeping figures and traces of ritual also appear and flesh out the series. The whole of the work does have transcendent quality, and since we are given no explanation of the circumstance around the depicted figures we are invited to linger in frames that open doors onto another space. We stand in wonder at life paths of the subjects and feel a connection so deep that we are encouraged to examine our own.
For more information on the exhibition please visit Pace/MacGill GalleryNew Yorker Review