CONCRETE JUNGLE  (ongoing)

No sun will shine in my day today
The high yellow moon won't come out to play
Darkness has covered my light
and the stage my day into night
Now, where is this love to be found?
Won't someone tell me 'cause life 
Must be somewhere to be found 
Instead of a concrete jungle
Where the living is harder

-Bob Marley 

 

These photographs are to explore my hometown city of Chennai as Part II of my project Repressed Memories in which I concentrated on daily life in rural Tamil Nadu. Repressed Memories represent the every-day influences, dilemmas, contrasts, dramas and dreams out of which my identity must have evolved. I shift my exploration of identity to my city which I think of as, “the ‘New World,’ where it sits a few inches off the savage, dangerous ground”(Jimmie Durham 1992), 

 

The creation of this “New World” is bound to the laborers who are building, maintaining and inhabiting it.  Concrete Jungle will be a photographic study of the physicality and visual vernacular of laborers and the urban sites where they are working and living. I believe, their lives, in line with my personal experience growing, living and working here myself, show “…one of the central paradoxes of the urban century: cities are quintessentially human, yet often shockingly inhumane” (Mac Donald, Beatley, and Elmquist, 2018).   Even as anthropologist Louis Dumont noted in his work from the last century, India remains a “traditional society” where the emphasis is on the society as a whole without stress on individual happiness. For many of us, day to day life here is a Concrete Jungle which alienates the very people who create and inhabit it.