INTERVIEW: Jayanta Roy
Fòcas Programme Director Katherine Parhar interviews Fòcas India shortlisted artist Jayanta Roy, a freelance photographer based in Kolkata, about his project Frozen Paradise, and his developing interest in economic and environmental portraiture.
F: Jayanta, Frozen Paradise studies the landscapes of the Kashmir Valley in winter. The region is so disturbed, politically, that I wonder if you set out, in your images, to depict it differently?
J: This series is my personal perspective of Kashmir, I don’t think there is any set standard or style or subject of photography of Kashmir, like we see in news paper or TV , boys pelting stones or army patrolling on the street, so the question of depict it differently is not valid . I have visiting there since 2011 and expect to shoot another few years before making a book of some 40 or 50 photographs, yes, this is probably one of the most disturbed place on earth, but in this particular series of images I am not political, I am not a hardcore documentary photographer, but in my photos of Kashmir I try to document common people in their natural environment, the work is still taking shape, ongoing.
F: You photograph mostly in the Himalayas, I think, with an interest in how climate change is affecting the region. What changes have you seen in the land while you’ve been photographing there?
J: I start travelling in Himalayas in 1995, when I was a kid, in last 22 years I have seen rapid growth of population , urbanization, pollution of rivers and melting glaciers specially in higher Himalayas,
For example, the source of river ganga once located in the town of gangtri in Uttrakhand, in last 150 years the Gangotri Glacier move 18 km backward to the higher Himalayas due to climate change and temperature rise, half billion people of vast plane of India depends on the river, but its source is dyeing slowly, I wish to use photography to create awareness for issue like this, so action can be taken.
F: When you photograph a landscape, do you feel that you’re also making a portrait, as it were, of the human relationship to that land?
J: In modern time, in every landscape photo we actually make portrait of human civilization, we have no untouched place left on world surface, every place bearing the signature of our carbon footprint, sometime it is a road or a electric post or any other man made structure or melting glacier or vanishing forest etc. In many time in my image I try to add tiny human elements to make a statement, to show our place on entire environment. Tiny but impactful.
Jayanti is a Calcutta-based photographer, who works predominantly in black & white landscape and nature photography. His interest lies how humans interact with the landscape as tiny element of the existence. Geographically, his work focuses in the Indian Himalayas, documenting climate change and building awareness of its a major threat to the Himalayas venerable and fragile landscape.