Walking the Line -- Living Together / Apart

Solo Photography show Curated by Avijna Bhattacharya

“If photographs quote from appearance and if expressiveness is achieved by what we have termed the long quotation, then the possibility suggests itself of composing with numerous quotations, of communicating not with single photographs but with groups or sequences.” –

John Berger, Stories, Understanding a Photograph.

Walking a foreseeable path is often assumed unimpeded, yet it is here where imaginative and observant minds find questions to address and concerns to live with. An erstwhile contention—a photograph captures moments in their truest configurations; has been both substantiated and refuted. Alternatively, it neither unveils entirety of a condition nor can conceal it completely. At this junction, a photographer with a promise to document actuality based on experiences, seeks images that match or contest a repertoire of ideas, beliefs and incertitude.

Sustaining an unprejudiced position while capturing ‘truth of the moment’ is imaginably a conclusive accomplishment of documentary-photographs. Gireesh GV eloquently performs the task by capturing frames with a persisting concern around the subjects. Discarded buildings, an abandoned toy horse, stray dogs playing with a rag doll in one frame, in another it lies torn and battered, and a series of images of rickshaw pullers. They indicate a narrative that can extend beyond what is visible.   A delicate approach and humanistic propensity, speaking only the essential, constructs the lens-man’s opinion.  Cohabiting with the subject matter and simultaneously trying to be free from their effect is part of his artistic exercise and a perpetual indeterminate act.  

A pondering thought – does this state of occurrences and their documented image through an artistic intervention get resolved? Gireesh has been exploring such queries with the camera since the 1990s. Photographed across two and half decades, this exhibition brings together a selection of ocular narratives he collected from different parts of the country. The urban and semi-urban, the cacophonic and quiet, the desolate and populous, the indulged and abandoned – his compositions move between contraries and often dwell at their intersections.Popular icons hidden amid busy streets and bustling crowds– chanced upon while roaming across cities– they are omnipresent. The world after darkness created by the magic of starlight. On a seashore, a far-off lighthouse with its beam of light slices darkness. From another time, a sleepy neighbourhood in Kutch draped in moon-gleam stands motionless. Torrential rain turns a desolate road into a frosted curtain enveloping a blurry tree and bicycle. Shortening shadows of a vagabond … or does it remind of a long familiar figure?Unkempt billboards tattered and abandoned with fractured images, one meets on highways. Gesticulating mannequins and reflections.

Scarecrow in isolated fields, retelling inventive power of fear that of a farmer’s mere illusion. A lonely iron gate guarding nobody. These sequences suggest numerous unanticipated quotations from the mundane. Seemingly conforming to innocuous content, they speak of the banished, complexities of the socially acceptable, the unwillingly politicised, disassembling situations in economy and their effects, social values and rapidly changing face of the urban.

Avijna Bhattacharya / Curator

Photographs tell us stories.

from the "Paint After Dark" series 2008
Photographs tell us stories. They engulf us and reflect back stories that exist saturated in those moments. In the exhibition titled Walking the Line – Living Together/Apart photographer Gireesh GV has captured objects as metaphors to inform us about the bittersweet memories spread across past two decades. The striking images of scarecrows through empty fields convey the immense suffering of farmer suicides. Pictures of massive fields covered in garbage due to rapid urbanisation is among the many emotionally charged images that make us question the consequences of over consumption and of what becomes disposable – both things and people. The Paint After Dark series contains photographs shot in the dark against a moonlit night sky drawing in luminous silhouettes out of old buildings and things we often overlook in our daily lives.
Rimme Dirchi, Writer / Repoter

‘I would not stage photographs but wait for the right frame’: Gireesh GV

Scary fields: Photographs by Gireesh GV

Photographer Gireesh GV communicates through metaphors in the exhibition ‘ Walking the line – Living Together / Apart’ which brings together over 20 years of his work.


Written by Vandana Kalra | New Delhi | October 23, 2021

from the series "Paint after dark" 2012

      A decoy used to safeguard the fields, the humble scarecrow, photographer Gireesh GV notes, is also a silent witness to the problems faced by the farmers and their growing “marginalisation by multinational traders”. In the exhibition titled “Walking the line – Living Together/Apart” these inanimate stuffed creatures photographed by Gireesh across India — including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh — seem to tell stories from the fields.

 “I had photographed scarecrows earlier but it came to me as a conceptual project after the farmer suicides. Meant to safeguard the fields, the scarecrows can’t really help the farmers in debt. So many farmers have died because of a few thousand rupees,” says Gireesh, 51.

Curated by Avijna Bhattacharya, the exhibition at Galley 1000A in Delhi brings together 50 photographs by Gireesh shot over 20 years. “During Covid, I began looking at my earlier photographs and editing. I shared some of them through online exhibitions and the response led to the conceptualisation of this show,” says Gireesh. “All my projects are ongoing. Wherever I go, I am looking for possibilities,” he adds.The earliest set comes from the mid ’90s, with Gireesh exploring the city after dark. Shot amid the usual sources of light at night, including moonlight, street lamps and automobile lights, the series ‘Paint After Dark’ shows us colour even where there seems to be none. “Even as a student, I liked shooting in the dark. We would cycle at night around Hyderabad and take photographs,” says Gireesh, a postgraduate in painting from SN School of Fine Arts and Performing Arts, Hyderabad.As a teenager, he would engage with his surroundings through a camera gifted by his father and also assist him in developing film. Years later, as a professional, he has worked in numerous news publications and has participated in exhibitions across the country. “During outstation assignments I would travel by train so that I could shoot for my projects. As a photojournalist we see everything, we can’t tell all that through one story or a picture… For my own projects, I would look for metaphors where things may not be as direct but I could put my thoughts across. I would not stage photographs but wait for the right frame,” says he.

While journalism offered opportunities, the photographer’s eye was keen to capture the unnoticed. If he ponders over shadows and how they represent “degradation in our life” in ‘Shortening Shadows’, in ‘Abandoned Hoardings’ he portrays the sorry state of the economy through huge hoardings that were blank for months. “Unseen, Unheard, Untold Stories” also uses metaphors to depict the abuse of women and children. “It started after the Nirbhaya case and the reporting of several rape cases from across India,” says Gireesh.


by Vandana Kalra | New Delhi | October 23, 2021

Story Published on 23rd October 2021 (link to the article)

Video documentation of the show