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PREVIEW

A Passage to India

A Slide Show by Award-Winning Photographer Shivji

By T. Luke Young and Gabor Csanyi

Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 28th

7 p.m., Room 6-120

A Passage to India offers us a glimpse into the rural traditions of India. Presented tonight at 7 p.m. in Room 6-120, the show aims to satisfy both photography enthusiasts and those interested in the culture and daily life of India’s people. The images are drawn from collections of the international award-winning photographer Shivji and demonstrate his mastery of the craft. The selection includes several beautiful and captivating desert landscapes: men and women pitted against the raw elements of wind, sun, and sand. But somehow it is obvious that they are at home, surviving as they have done for millennia. There are also many individual portraits -- character studies -- expressing deep emotions and whole lives in perfectly caught instants.

The show rewards the viewer with rich colors and textures through a narration highlighting religion, dances, festivals and marketplaces. The Indian subcontinent is a vast and varied geography inhabited by more than one billion people; while the slide show was surely never intended to give a comprehensive account, it is a personal statement, by someone with a keen eye, about a home. Shivji focuses much of his attention on his home state of Rajasthan, but at the same time manages to capture the cultural currents of many other regions of India. In a country with twenty-five states and more languages than that, it is never easy to coalesce a comprehensive picture in a slide show. His images to a large degree seem to portray both cultural differences within a society and the underlying glue that holds the country together.

The breadth and depth of Shivji’s work is evident in the thematically narrated show. Perhaps the only drawback is the sheer quantity of slides packed into such a short span of time, resulting in a kaleidoscope of pictures shown at dizzying pace. A Passage to India is most effective when short sequences of the rural landscape combined with powerful portraits are viewed in absolute silence. It is only then that the impact of Shivji’s striking images can be truly appreciated. Prepare to be visually exhausted.