Sunday, August 20, 2006

Baird Cornell & a Calcutta photoblog

Baird Cornell is an artist based in Munich, Germany. He was in Calcutta recently. A friend at the Goethe Institute in Calcutta put him in touch with me.

Baird has visited India many times. He is here now working on a project that seeks to explore the impact of politics, economy and religion on culture, in the rapidly changing context of globalisation. He is interested in looking at the interface between two cultutes, one sustained by an indigenous value tradition, and the other by an urban environment waking to the issues of economic self-empowerment.

Calcutta and Howrah lie on on the two sides of the river Hooghly, linked by the Howrah Bridge (the most travelled bridge in the world). Millions of economic immigrants come to the city of Calcutta, crossing the Howrah Bridge. Rural crosses over into the urban, on the Rabindra Setu (the name of the Howrah bridge, after Bengal’s famous poet sage Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1941), over the sacred river. Baird is struck by these metaphors.

One of his project activities is giving digital cameras to young people from each side of the river to use on the other side. I put him in touch with the volunteer teachers at the Talimi Haq School in Howrah. Yesterday I collected the complete set of images taken by the teachers. I found the results very interesting. I shall keep posting images from this collection!

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