Walking, Stopping, Painting – Moving Upstream: Ganga

Left, right, left, right, left, right

In my head my legs are the extreme ends of a swinging pendulum, repeating the same movements, but surely getting somewhere. In that sense walking long distances is like a physical metaphor of time passing. And when walking in India, you pass through space and time while passing through spaces and times.

Left, right, left, right, left, right

Stop.

Wow.

Yes, at moments your feet, as with time, will stop at something. A person, a vision, something that creates a ripple in the fabric of infinity that you think you are canvassing on your walk.

You look at the ripple, you feel it, you talk to it. Take it in as much as you can.

And then you move on. Because time, like your journey, always moves ahead.

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left

When I first heard of walking the entire length of the Ganga, I was hooked. As someone who thinks visually, I could (and in a way couldn’t) imagine the vastness of visual and spiritual experiences one could have in this kind of a journey. When on the walk, I realized how much of this was beyond my imagination, and enthusiastically began the process of collecting and saving these experiences for the posterity.

In my journey as a photographer and a film-maker, I have become increasingly aware of the camera’s ability to be a barrier between the user and the experience. Not undermining my sense of wonder for the medium of film and photography, which does in a fraction of a second what most of humankind throughout its history has yearned to do. But the camera, although at times a portal, can also be a wall. A wall of technology and money that divides both sides of the world, the observer and the observed. As one constantly experiences reality through the camera, one feels that the camera perhaps dilutes their experience, or at least alters the nature of it.

Before I had the resources to get a camera, in the nostalgia-filled bygone era where camera phones hadn’t existed, or wasn’t accessible to me, I used to sketch. Undergraduate degree in Fine Arts meant most of us just hung around and drew, sketched and painted whatever and whenever we could. Sometime in my UG is where my slacker self realised that clicking a button is easier than hours of sitting around trying to ‘re-create’ something. Hence I left sketching, telling myself I’ll come back to it someday.

It was on the walk that I decided that it was time. The setting was also perfect, and I realized the hours it took to re-create something comes with the experience of seeing instead of just looking, with letting everything sink into yourself rather than letting it be just skin deep.

These postcards were made for the moments of ‘wow’ that I experienced on the walk; moments that I wanted to capture and send to people close to me. On the back of these postcards are the incidents around the images drawn on the front. If one was to collect all the postcards, they would get a deep glimpse into the experiences and thoughts I had on this journey.

These represent the time that I took on the journey, and the time spent to take in everything that came my way. I can’t think of anything better to accompany the idea of walking along the Ganga.

 

– Shridhar

Shridhar, a film maker and artist, had joined our Moving Upstream:Ganga project to document the second leg of the walk and also work on the documentary. He walked with us for almost 500 kms from Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh to Gangotri, Uttarakhand along the Ganga. To contact Shridhar or to see more of his work: Shridhar’s Website/Portfolio

Moving Upstream is our homegrown project, the first edition saw us walking 2500kms along the Ganga from the sea to source. We are working to create a multifaceted experience revolving around the river. To support and learn more about the project, visit: www.veditum.org/crowdfundingFollow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for frequent updates.

We’re working on expanding our work with Moving Upstream to other rivers of India, if you’re interested in collaborating as an individual (participant/artist/researcher) or as an organisation (partner/sponsor) please reach out to us. Should you wish to re-publish this article, just drop us an email at: contact@veditum.org

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