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Oblivion: Life after Death

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The grave station.

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India – October 2015. The grave station.

Oblivion: Life after Death, photo essay by Sourav Sil


This photo essay is a personal interpretation of eternal oblivion or nothingness – the state which is said to prevail beyond the fall of death. The journey to the Elysium of nothingness starts from the grave. It is a long and tedious journey with the sole camaraderie of emptiness.

The lights and shadows play with each other to create new paths at every turn. You walk on those paths without any care. There is an awkward silence. The nothingness seems to be a welcome relief from the noisy burden of your earlier life. You continue walking. There is no pain in the muscles. There is no fear in the heart. The nothingness slowly transforms from being nothing to being something. The feeling gets overwhelming at times. You try to overcome the feeling. Suddenly, the shadows give way and the lights give birth to a house on the hillock. You go near the house and look through its windows. In the distance, you see the glowing top of the Elysium. You again start walking. As you keep on walking, you see the Elysium getting bigger but not nearer. You realize that the Elysium is nothing but the eternal oblivion. You again start walking. (Sourav Sil)

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The meadows of oblivion (1).

The meadows of oblivion.

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The clouds of oblivion (1).

The clouds of oblivion (1).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The clouds of oblivion (2).

The clouds of oblivion (2).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The path of oblivion (1).

The path of oblivion (1).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The path of oblivion (2).

The path of oblivion (2).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The forests of oblivion (1).

The forests of oblivion (1).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The meadows of oblivion (2).

The meadows of oblivion (2).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The house of oblivion (1).

The house of oblivion (1).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The house of oblivion (2).

The house of oblivion (2).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The Elysium of oblivion (1).

The Elysium of oblivion (1).

Singalila National Park, West Bengal, India - October 2015. The Elysium of oblivion (2).

The Elysium of oblivion (2).


Q&A with Sourav Sil

Photography is…
Diane Arbus writes in her introduction to “An Aperture Monograph”, “A whore I once knew showed me a photo album of Instamatic color pictures she’d taken of guys she’d picked up. I don’t mean kissing ones. Just guys sitting on beds in motel rooms. I remember one of a man in a bra. He was just a man, the most ordinary, milktoast sort of man, and he had just tried on a bra. Like anybody would try on a bra, like anybody would try on what the other person had that he didn’t have. It was heartbreaking. It was really a beautiful photograph.” Photography, to me, is a language of aesthetics in which I try to write down the images that affect me in some way or the other.

PRIVATE 43 – Other side IndiaPhotography and writing…
Every art has its own language and every artist has his or her own style. But the fundamental tool is ‘composition’ everywhere. I have always considered myself as a writer although I hardly write. The adolescent bloom had inspired a poet in me long ago. Now the remnants of that inspiration can be found occasionally in the form of couplets at the back of my exercise books. However, I feel the art of writing is strongly related to photography. In fact, as I have already stated, I consider photography as an art of writing images. But a heady concoction of the two forms in any presentation can disrupt the beauty of both. You need to know where to place the ladder against the tree. The introduction to “An Aperture Monograph” by Diane Arbus is the most ravishing piece on photography I have ever read. I like Aveek Sen’s writing on the works of Dayanita Singh. Camera Lucida is incomprehensible. And I’m yet to read Susan Sontag.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
The most difficult question…Impression, I believe, is not as eternal as it seems. The answer to this question will change with the rotations and revolutions of the earth. I was introduced to photography by my seniors at Jadavpur University Photographic Club (JUPC). I learned photography from my peers. I was inspired to continue photography by my juniors. Hence, the impression-leaving process is quite an intricate one. For now, let it be Sebastião Salgado. Salgado’s works comprise one of the most valuable documentaries of humanity composed using the medium of photography.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Photography is perhaps the most democratic art form. Explore the language and celebrate the styles, but do not distort the idea of the art for the sake of your vested interests. Thank you.

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