This blog piece first appeared on the website 

The traditional habitats and domestic spaces of the Dawoodi Bohras.

By Sebastian Cortés, Images courtesy Tasveer

Internationally recognised as a lifestyle and fashion photographer, Sebastian Cortés’ most recent series Sidhpur: Time Present Time Past is an in-depth photographic exploration of the Bohra Islamic community in Sidhpur, a little-known small town in Gujarat. Building on his desire to explore forms of biography, memory and metaphor—this latest exhibition demonstrates Cortés’ continuing interest in documenting and uncovering India’s more enigmatic facets, this time through careful photographic studies of the traditional habitats and domestic spaces of the Dawoodi Bohras, an elusive and veiled Islamic community. 

Abbas Vagh House

Traditionally a trading community by profession—indeed, the term Bohra derives from the Gujarati term vehru or trade—the Bohras are a people who constantly invented and reinvented their identity in keeping with migratory patterns. Absorbing and negotiating influences around them, their complex cultural makeup is strikingly reflected in their entirely unique architecture that is an amalgamation of Hindu, Islamic, Persian, European and Colonial styles.

Abbas Vagh House

Cortés’ approach is to “take time to unveil small narratives”, and continually highlight photography’s ability to capture, expose and visually interpret lingering moods and inherent natures contained within domestic architectural spaces. The photographs in this series are saturated with fragments of what was once valued, of past luxuries and prizes, that despite neglect resist decay and refuse to be entirely dismissed. He captures the residual memories, histories and traces of past lives that persist in the facades of buildings, in empty rooms, windows, doors, stairways, and other distinguishing features of Bohra architecture. Through doing this Cortés’ images allude to the past contained within the present.

Amena Kalkattawala House

Commenting on the slow dissolution of a culture in its encounter with modernity, Cortés creates an ambiguous reality where the past and present blur and merge, where the architecture and physical environment become cultural artefacts, allowing the viewer to penetrate through the walls and access the inner realm of homes, spaces, lives and domestic routines of this otherwise concealed community.

Baitul Tarbiyat (Orphanage for Girls)

Baitul Tarbiyat (Orphanage for Girls).

Exterior of Hararwala House

Exterior of Hararwala House.

Innermost Chamber Saifuddin Vagh House

Jhaveri House

Lady of the house at Roshanbhai Haharwala house

Lady of the house at Roshanbhai Haharwala House

Najam Hararwala House

Najam Hararwala House.

Saifuddin Vagh HouseSaifuddin Vagh House

Saifuddin Vagh House

Saifuddin Vagh House

Saifuddin Vagh House

Saifuddin Vagh HouseSaifuddin Vagh House

Street of Saifeepura

Street of Saifeepura

(Tasveer and the Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum present “Sebastian Cortés -Sidhpur: Time Present Time Past” in Mumbai, as part of the gallery’s 9th season of exhibitions, in partnership with Vacheron Constantin and The Singleton of Glen Ord.The exhibition will stay on view at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum until April 30, 2015.)

August 03, 2017 — DesiCrafts India

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