INTERVIEW: Sameer Raichur

Fòcas Programme Director Katherine Parhar interviews Fòcas India shortlisted artist, a freelance photographer based in Bangalore, about his project ‘Alone, Together,’ and his interest in childhood and family lineage.

© Sameer Raichur

F: This project, Alone, Together, is about the similarities – and partings – between twins and siblings. What moved you to make this kind of typology? 

S: Siblings grow up to be such different people with distinct personalities despite experiencing (for the most part) the same set of circumstances , rules, influences and opportunities. This project tries to explore togetherness, juxtaposed to my belief that we are all islands – you could know a person their whole life and yet have no idea what they are thinking at any given moment. 

With August Sander, Diane Arbus, and Ketaki Sheth coming before you, how did you feel taking this subject up with your camera? 
Twins have held a visual fascination for many artists. For me, it started with the iconic scene of the twins from Stanley Kurbick’s ‘The Shining’. Martin Schoeller’s symmetric close-ups of twins’ faces for National Geographic magazine was another riveting rendition based on a similar theme. In a sense I’m paying homage to these great artists and benefiting from their wisdom. 
I plan to take the project forward (and give it my own rendering) by visiting the town of Kodinhi in Kerala. This tiny hamlet has one of the highest incidences of twins in the world. Considering this project was conceived during a visit to Kerala at the Kochi Biennale in late 2016, a few visits to Kodinhi would be the ideal way to see it through. 

F: You travelled to rural villages in India, where the tradition of dressing same sex siblings (not twins) in the same – or similar – clothing still thrives. To my eye, it gives your images a surreal feel. Is that what attracted you to it?

S: For someone who finds beauty in symmetry, it has been incredibly satisfying to shoot these images. What adds to the surreal feel is the fact that I don’t pose the siblings, causing them to appear stiff and wooden, alone with their thoughts, with their stare always directed straight at the camera. 

© Sameer Raichur

F: You made this project while working on another documentary series, and you’re now travelling to document India’s sari industry.

S: Over the course of 2017, in collaboration with a writer, I am travelling to major Sari weaving and marketing centre’s in India. We have so far visited the countryside of 10 states with 4 more to go. We will be focusing not so much on fabric or textile but the stories of people working in the industry and the history of the towns they work in. For the project, I’ve been documenting landscape, the curiosities of the Indian countryside and of course I’ve been making portraits.

Sameer is an independent photographer based out of Bangalore, India. He completed a diploma in photography from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, MA in 2012. His work centres on the themes of childhood, and family, where he primarily works in the areas of portrait and documentary photography. Sameer is currently working on a yearlong assignment in India, travelling and documenting the lives of people engaged in the Sari industry