It was a potent time for creative explorations. Inspired by Sri Chaitanya’s bhakti1 movement, people were in search of newer ways to forge ties – between themselves, between the self and the universe and beyond. 16th century Bengal2 was experiencing a resurgence which not only prompted poets and artists to find various forms of expressions, but also resulted in a rapid development of its own language. Architects and sculptors of the era grabbed this opportunity to create some of the finest works of terracotta art.
Robert van Koesveld’s passion of photography found able allies in his artist’s mind which in turn joined forces with his restless feet always in search of wonders in distant landscapes. Still it remained largely a hobby for him until recently and only received primary focus during his many sojourns. About four years ago, he took a break from his full time profession as a psychotherapist and educator. As usual he enjoyed his journey through different places and relished the opportunities of photographing the known and unknown facets of the land and the people living there. But this time he did not go back to his work, instead, he devoted time in exploring the world even more. To ensure the imagery what his mind absorbed is presented faithfully to the audience across the globe he started maintaining extensive visual diaries. While many locales unmasked themselves in front of the camera lenses of this photographer, Bhutan — a tiny nation nestled into the Himalayas, enthralled him most.
Illustrious sojourners or a common man, who keep an open mind during their trips to foreign land, have discovered for themselves the immensely nourishing experience of travelling on both mind and body. Yet, with each of our perspectives being unlike, even if slightly, the other person’s standing next to us, an image may uncover different versions of a story to each one of us. A reflection on a dewdrop hanging from the edge of a blade of green grass, a wildflower thriving on the roadside in defiance of the tramples she puts up with everyday of her existence or the octogenarian woman sitting beside an earthen oven and fanning the fire not essentially out of necessity but more of habit may evoke varied emotions in different person’s hearts. But irrespective of that shade of sensation, it will stir a creative mind enough to let it yearn for an expression. And for an artist it is vital to be truthful to his or her own vision. While erstwhile travellers like Marco Polo resorted to cartography to have the viewers retrace the places he visited, modern technology has given us camera for capturing tiny moments of this rapidly flowing time. And while people like Robert van Koesveld are striving to hold the glimmering gems in palm before their sparkles are lost forever in the annals of time, let us not dither any longer in retracing the steps of his photographic journey.
For over a decade now Matilde Gattoni’s camera lens is faithfully capturing myriad facets of life as experienced in India or Eritrea, Uzbekistan or Iran, Syria or Somalia. Born in 1974, Matilde Gattoni studied History in Universite’ des Sciences Humaines, Strasbourg, France, before giving in to her passion for photography. Ironically, as she now treads the different parts of the world camera in hand she lets her own visual essays to be a part of mankind’s history.
Matilde’s career as a photojournalist commenced when she was travelling in Israel and ended up covering the second Intifada early last decade. In the process she received much acclaim not only from her fellow photographers but also from aficionados of the art. Since 2007, her name was a permanent feature in more than one International Photography Awards (IPA). For her project Drought and Fear in the Horn of Africa she received bronze medal in Px3 Prix de la Photographie in 2012. Her visual portrayal, The Swallows of Syria, earned her 3rd place in Portfolio Lens Culture International Exposure Awards, 2012. Matilde was also associated in the making of Uzbekistan, 10 years after independence, Tranchida Editore, Milan, 2002 with renowned journalist Ahmed Rashid. A similar endeavour with Cartiere del Garda produced A better time in 2008.
Whether, it is in The Swallows of Syria or in The Devil in Me, the plight of women feature prominently in many of Matilde Gattoni’s visual narratives. Similarly, their victories also receive due attention as could be seen through her photographic essay on Elham Al Qasim, the first woman from UAE to reach North Pole. Over a period of time she also diversified and set out exploring a wide range of topics from architectural marvels, posh interiors to high octane sports like Formula One but always with a humane touch. Read the full interview with Matilde Gattoni to learn more about her and her work as she is busy in ‘catching’ the ‘transient hour’.
Jody MacDonald learned to appreciate remote landscapes and foreign cultures early in her life. A childhood spent in Saudi Arabia has been a big help in her effort of deciphering an exotic climate. So, now when she paraglides over a forgotten piece of land or holds a tête–à–tête with a little known soul in some remote corner of the globe she feels completely at home. The photographer traverses the land, delves deep into the water and darts into the cool gale for locating and capturing that elusive photographic moment that seems wonderfully ‘perfect’. But being the purist that she is, it is extremely difficult for her to be satisfied with her craft and she continues to hone her skills. In 2006, Jody, in order to satisfy her thirst of both art and adventure, conceived The Best Odyssey. She and her partner, Gavin McClurg, trot the whole world sailing, surfing or spearfishing on the Pacific and Indian Ocean. Needless to say, these wild expeditions make Jody blissfully happy. For Jody it could aptly be said that, ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.’
Whether it is from his Window Seat or while traversing the diverse landscape of Tanzania, Africa, Martin Klimek keeps a close watch on his surroundings, so that, nothing escapes the roving eyes of his faithful camera. Armed with an insatiable curiosity of experiencing the motley of colours presented by people and places closer home or away from it and an equally commendable open–mindedness, Martin Klimek continuously documents life as he views it. His photographic essays depict an irresistible élan vital that not only draws the attention of the audience but also engages into a conversation, albeit mute to the outside world, with them. At the end of the day when one finishes glancing over the pages of his album one senses how united everyone is in joys and pathos; it feels that one has just woke from a deep reverie; it seems one was treading the long forgotten dusty lanes of one’s own memory lane than shifting the pages to see some ‘unknown’ faces and ‘foreign’ environment. If for an artist the highest achievement is to transcend time then this San Francisco based photographer is surely sculpting his way towards the right direction. For, his work made his viewers aware of, ‘Where the voice of the wind calls our wandering feet / Through echoing forest and echoing street / With lutes in our hands ever–singing we roam / All men are our kindred, the world is our home.’