Automatische concepten

Over the last six years I made several trips to Gujarat, India. My friends Parth and Brinda Shah, architects in Rajkot, introduced me and my travel companions and family to the stepwells which are typical for the northern semi-arid part of Gujarat. Stepwells are often deep pits with staircases leading to the ground water. Water is sacred in a semi-desert. So these places are not only functional but also sacred, temples on could say. Parth joined me on many trips after that first one, everywhere we met hospitality, people were helpful in guiding us to stepwells and pointing out to more at other places.

“To visit a stepwell is to enter into the earth. One leaves the world’s sense of time and space behind and rediscovers the sky in the infinitely still water at the bottom. It is a transformative experience, difficult for me to explain, but one that has utterly changed my understanding of spatial reality, and thus of myself in the world.”

This research project resulted in a little over twenty panoramic photo collages, several drawings and video’s and a set of two books.

The stepwells in Gujarat are relatively unknown outside India and inside! The few researchers and photographers that published work on them are drawn to the rhythmic effects and tricks of light around the pillars, as well as similar effects on the stairways and relief sculpture throughout the architecture. Such images are easy to fall in love with, and are to be enjoyed. But what I find myself gravitating toward more than anything else is the bare-bones structural reality of a stepwell rooted in the earth. This is the level of perception at which the kinesthetic and sensual experience of a stepwell really begins to resonate for me.

Exhibition prints mounted on dibond, ‘floating’ 15 mm from the wall, width 500mm height varies – Indian edition of five per photo (full gloss) + European edition similar five of each five (satin)

Thanks to Loek van Vliet, digital color management, Martin Zwaan prints and mounting