Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty de Max Pinckers
Given an open commission to return to India to shoot a new body of work, Max Pinckers approached the Love Commandos in New Delhi, an organisation that helps couples who have fallen in love escape the threat of honour violence from their disapproving families. But, finds Colin Pantall, the result is a world away from a traditional documentary record, instead developing the approach of his previous work, using staged scenarios influenced by Bollywood cinema
Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty (…) focuses on honour-based violence in India; in particular, the attacks on women and men who fall in love, or have a relationship against their family’s will. Honour-based violence used to be limited to rural areas, but it is expanding into large cities due to the rise in extreme religious and political groups. One organisation fighting this violence is the Love Commandos, a voluntary group that originally formed to protect couples who celebrate Valentine’s Day from attack by extremists.
Art imitating life
The staged shots are mixed with photographs of moments restaged from real life. We see an image of a man and woman standing on corrugated iron rooftops on a Mumbai beach. She is throwing a paper aeroplane to him, a message of her forbidden love. The lighting is garish, the location opportunistic and anonymous. It seems as though we are in the 1970s again. But the picture is a recreation of the courtship of Sanjay and Aarti, the most celebrated of the couples rescued by the Love Commandos. After Aarti’s parents found out about her relationship with Sanjay, they beat her and tried to sell her three times. Once she was sold to a couple for £140 as ‘a slave for extramarital relations’. Aarti complained so much that she was returned to her parents from whom, with help from the Love Commandos, she eventually escaped. Reaching out into a fictional world, Pinckers shows us Sanjay and Aarti in their new home. Aarti is holding a baby, Sanjay is switching on the television and the walls are covered in peeling blue paint and irregular brickwork. The struggle for love is over; now the struggle of life begins.
This ambiguity in the message is deliberate and something Pinckers has developed through his use of colour and still lifes. “It’s difficult on a visual level to know what is actual documentary and what is created or staged by me. So I chose the shots of the Love Commandos to be in the blue-painted space of the Delhi headquarters. On top of that there’s the religious, the romantic and the escaping aspect of the story. But it’s important that the viewer is able to see what is actually the Love Commandos and what is not.”
Text Colin Pantal
taken from Max Pinckers Website
Please note that the edition on show here is a dummy version for promotional purposes only, published by Art Paper Editions (APE#32), Ghent, Belgium, edition of 34. Produced on the occasion of the exhibition Indomania, presented by europalia.india, Bozar – Center for Fine Arts, Brussels, 2013.
The newly produced and definite book will be self published and available sometime towards the end of May. l. It will feel and look considerably different with a finer binding technique, paper changes and adjustments in the content, image selection and sequencing. All featured images will be placed online soon.
Magnum photographer Alec Soth:
“In Max Pinckers brilliantly rendered photographs, all the world’s a stage and Pinckers is the stage director. But like the best theater, what matters in Pinckers’ pictures isn’t the technique behind the theatrics, but the comic drama of humanity”.