Works from Noida Soliloquy & Sleepers (2007 – 2012), Dhruv Malhotra. Presented by Photoink in association with Chatterjee & Lal

Ilustrated: Dhruv Malhotra, Untitled, from Sleepers, 2007 – 2012, courtesy Dhruv Malhotra/Photoink

Being a chronic insomniac, Malhotra has consistently photographed the night. What sets his night photographs apart is his pointed intention to reveal what is concealed in the shadows of darkness. In Noida Soliloquy, the experience of the night is not obscured or made mysterious. Instead, the photographs made with long exposures, appear almost like day and surreal. It is in this visible darkness, that attention shifts to the anatomy of an aspiring metropolis and its in-between spaces. It was while wandering through the streets and parks of Noida that he photographed the sleeping figures he stumbled upon.

The desire to continue photographing “sleepers” led Malhotra to travel beyond Noida. He began to seek them everywhere he went. If photographs from Noida Soliloquy were largely marked by the absence of people, Sleepers is defined by their presence. What remains constant is the pervasive silence of the night, which is what primarily attracts the photographer to make photographs at night. Photographing sleeping figures is fraught with some risk since the process employed by Malhotra necessitates mounting his camera on a tripod and making long exposures in their close vicinity. Sometimes, the sleeping figure would awaken during the process and these “moments of waking” have been translated on film. The inherent idea of a photograph being a record of a moment is transformed into motion as a result of these long exposures. Sleepers is as a much a commentary about urban life in India as much as it is a self-reflection of a photographer, who found himself, as he says, “drifting through life without purpose, waiting for an awakening of dormant potential”.

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