With 72 black-and-white and 32 color photos, Balika Mela - a kind of festival for girls organized by a local NGO - constitutes a document of Indian master photographer Gauri Gill's pop-up photo studio - set up on site to take portraits of girls and young women in particular in the remote and rural western Rajasthan – far from the big Indian cities. Gauri Gill places modern India's overlooked and outsiders in the middle of the picture – and thus in our field of vision. She is exhibiting more than 200 works at Louisiana in spring 2023.
In 2003 and again in 2010, Gill collaborated with the participants to create these portraits and she also conducted workshops on photography for the local participants who taught themselves photography.
In recent decades, Gauri Gill has particularly depicted life in marginalized communities in the countryside, outside India's urban centres. The focus is on identity, gender and class hierarchies in Indian society, migration and cultural affiliations, climate change and the imbalance between center and periphery, as well as between capitalism and cultural roots.
Giving visibility to girls and women, particularly from rural areas dominated by patriarchal power structures, is a major driving force in much of Gill's work. The same is the desire to emphasize a diversity of voices and points of view, which is expressed in experimental collaborations and collective works.
The portrait – based on close relationships with the people and places portrayed – forms the central focal point of her extensive body of work, which engages with poetic beauty, empathy, humor and political commitment.
From her base in New Delhi, Gauri Gill has attracted attention on the international art scene, not least at documenta in 2017 and the Venice Biennale in 2019, with an original body of work that encompasses several photographic genres – from classic documentary photography to staged tableaus, and a long range works, created precisely in collaboration with others.
Dimensions: H: 26.5 x W: 19.2 x D: 1.0
Language: Hindi and English
Authors: Gauri Gill - in close collaboration with a large number of local compatriots, whom she credits in the book
Publisher: Edition PF