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Bharat Choudhary June 17, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

From the project “The Silence of ‘Others”. Chicago 2010

Bharat Choudhary (b. 1978, India) is a documentary photographer currently based in London. He spent his first 14 years in Nigeria before moving back to India with his parents. After a degree in forestry management, he spent five years working with non-governmental organizations, on issues of rural poverty and education. Things changed when his father gifted him with an old Asahi Pentax K2 and a Minolta X-700. Bharat realized that his photography could be the voice of many socially marginalized communities. He gave shape to his photography under the mentorship of Magnum photographer Raghu Rai and received an MA in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri in 2010. Presently, he is working on a project about young Muslims and Islamophobia in England, supported by the Alexia Foundation for World Peace grant.

About the Photograph:

“I was walking towards downtown Chicago with Kaiser when we both saw this busy beach next to an equally busy road. It was hot, we were tired and so we decided to rest there for a while before resuming our march towards the Millennium Park. Kaiser took out his sketchbook and the famous winds of Chicago added wings to an already interesting situation. I saw a lot of things in a few seconds. But what made that moment special to me was the sight of a ‘salad bowl’, instead of the so-called ‘melting pot’ that everyone loves to talk about. I do not see this as a visually delightful image that entertains, but I feel that it comes close to my idea of an image that forwards a reason for an informed debate. No single element in the image alone would’ve worked. But here every single unit serves as an equally relevant part of a very important whole. When I look at this image, I try to connect all these units and believe that together they honestly articulate the thoughts and feelings of Kaiser.”

“My project, The Silence of ‘Others’, is documenting the emotional struggle of young Muslims dealing with negative perceptions and religious discrimination. The project intends to portray the influence of socio-political discourses that are constructing young Muslim minds and reveal how their external world is structuring their internal sense of self. Through images, I am trying to articulate their opinions, perceptions and inner voices. The greatest challenge, ever since I started working on this project, has been to avoid stereotypes and create images that unambiguously represent the emotions of young Muslims. I have come to realize that normative or descriptive images alone will not be enough.  My images will have to reveal all that remains a secret to our bare eyes. I think the image of Kaiser Aslam at the beach is a beautiful representation of this philosophy.”