For five hundred years the holy city of Vrindavan in northern India has been a haven for India's dispossessed widows. Cast out by their families and condemned by strict marital laws which deny them legal, economic and, in extreme cases, even human rights, they have made their way to the city to worship at its temples and live in its ashrams, surviving on charitable hand-outs or begging on the streets. In Vrindavan they worship the young god Krishna, who invades their dreams, helping them to cast off memories from their past life and prepare for a new and better life to come. Their ultimate dream is to reach Moksha - heaven - where they will find freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth and live surrounded by their gods forever. Fazal Sheikh's photographs capture the meditative mood of the city and his portraits of the widows convey their sense of acceptance of life nearing its end and a longing for what is to come. As in his previous books he spent time with his subjects, listening to their stories, many of which reveal the suffering caused by traditions that still govern Indian society.
Through his depiction of the city and its inhabitants, Fazal Sheikh once again contributes to our knowledge and understanding of a community whose existence, to those who live outside it, remains closed.
Buy Fazal Sheikh book by Fazal Sheikh from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(264mm x 215mm x 37mm)
Publisher: Steidl Publishers
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Author Biography - Fazal Sheikh
Fazal Sheikh was born in 1965 in New York City. Since graduating from Princeton University, he has collaborated with displaced communities across East Africa, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, Cuba and India. His awards include the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, the Prix d'Arles, and the Leica Medal of Excellence. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His previous books include A Sense of Common Ground, The Victor Weeps, A Camel for the Son, and Ramadan Moon. Exhibitions of his work have been presented at Tate Modern, London; the International Center of Photography and the United Nations, New York. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the George Eastman House, Rochester; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is represented by Pace/ MacGill Gallery in New York City. Generous support for Fazal Sheikh's International Human Rights Series has been provided by the Volkart Foundation, Winterthur, Switzerland. Additional major support for this project has been provided by Autograph ABP and The Arts Council of England.