Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Have we Become?

I have chosen to create a set of 12 photographs that represent the womenswear collection from the Indian brand Label by Ritu Kumar. The brand is a diffusion line targeted at the 18-25 year old Western woman. The brand has a bright and light aesthetic. The dresses combine traditional Indian prints and tessellating patterns with revealing cuts and sheer fabrics. This unification of cultural identities led me to choosing the theme 'remix/re-imagine' to create 12 photographs.

The photographs are three sets of four photographs, with each set expressing the overcoming of a culture clashing emotion. The sets of photographs show the awkward culture combination that many young British Indian women have today; they feel they must try to embrace the cultural identity associated with being of Indian heritage. The story in each set of photographs all express a defiance or overcoming of a controlled emotion. The final photograph in each set particularly captures this feeling through the action of throwing away the floral broach, blowing out the candle and eating the apple.

Initially, I researched the various pathways of ‘remix/re-imagine’ such as juxtaposition and the idea of developing a short story through each set of photographs.

Whilst researching Indian social culture, I found that it is extremely taboo to steer away from representing the Hindu religion and way of life as it has been through history. There is an emphasis on idol worship and offerings of exotic fruits and flowers to the Gods. I explored the theme of fruits through my final set of photographs, where I used them to symbolise greed. The woman is surrounded by all the worldly desires expressed by the fruit. Religion teaches her to detach herself from these desires. However, by the final picture, she has defied this belief and taken a bite from the forbidden fruit.

More importantly however, the use of colour and print during various religious ceremonies, festivals and rites of passage led me to progress by deciding to take this soft, feminine brand into a harsh, sharp environment. Through this juxtaposition, I aim to invoke a feeling in the photographs of 'What have we become?' - a reflection of the changes in social identity through the eyes of a British Indian and ultimately, question whether brands like Label by Ritu Kumar will become the only way of keeping a tradition in the Western World.

I chose to explore sharpness and death in my research. Indian funerals are traditionally vibrant and bright, masking the overwhelming sadness of the event itself. This led to the exploration of veiling and unveiling as a sub theme. I have cropped photographs and layered the print of the dresses to capture this emotion. I aimed to convey the masking of emotions at funerals in the first set of photographs, where we see the woman veiled and finally throwing away her broach.

Indian prints in fashion are inspired by traditional architecture, flora and fauna. Tessellations and the use of symmetry are an integral part of the Indian style. My research shows the experimentation with zoom techniques when photographing the garment and the symmetric floral patterns from the temple carvings. As the prints on the dresses were traditional Indian prints, I chose to explore the idea of close up photography.

The viewer feels like they are in the darkness missing out on the traditional and vibrant light of the Indian cultures. To capture this mood in the photographs, I have emulated the techniques used by Nan Goldin when she took pictures of her subjects in intimate positions, making the viewer feel like they were looking into a personal, powerful moment. The similar techniques used by Lucian Perkins create a new frame to his work, making the viewer question whether or not there is growth beyond the frame.

Another technique used to represent Label by Ritu Kumar is over exposure in the photographs. The overexposed shots make the viewer feel like they were taken on a very hot day, thus emulating the climate in India. The overexposure picks up the brightest colours and prints and layers them with the harsh 'sunlight', thus juxtaposing as well as complementing the roots of the brand. I have also researched using colour filters and similar techniques learnt from studying the work of Ryan McGinley. I have used filters to add another dimension to the photographs, thus reflected the theme.

I created these photographs as part of a project at LCF. I also received a little mention by Amelia's Magazine about my work. You can read more about the exhibition and fashion show here! Let me know what you think too.


  1. Love it! especially the fruit one with the print over it.
    p.s congrats on being famous!!


Let me know what you think!
Leah x