BENGALURU: KR Market is filled with the smell of mangoes and flowers and just like everyday the place is abuzz with people. Yet a few from the crowd stop for a moment to catch a glimpse of a line of photographs placed at a corner of the market that tells the story of about the jasmine (or Mallige as it is locally known) trade in the city.
Sandeep TK, a freelance photographer based in Bengaluru, was always fascinated with the flower and its significance in people’s daily lives.
As part of the ‘Bangalore Mapping Project’ – which aims to map the social, political and economic aspects of the city through the lens of art – he was working in City Market and would regularly interact with shopkeepers and trader of the market. He soon realised that there was a fascinating and exquisite story to share with the world.
From pictures of women adorning jasmine on their hair, priests offering the flowers to the gods, its use in the Karaga fesitival, Mallige, is integral to the South Indian culture.
There is always a fresh stock of the flowers everyday. Wonder where it’s coming from? Sandeep embarked on a mission to capture behind-the-scenes story of the flower and stayed for four days in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, from where the majority of the supply comes.
w“In February the flower is cultivated and by April it is ready to be plucked. From children to senior citizens, the family gathers to collect flowers at 1 am. By dawn the tempos arrive to transport the flowers to the cities. Krishnagiri is about 140 km from here,” says Sandeep. “Their labour pays them Rs 80 and they enjoy plucking the flowers, it does not even feel like they are working,” Sandeep adds.
The purpose of his first public art display is to connect people. “Even though people don’t know each other, they are somehow connected,” he says. He displayed the pictures in KR Market to let the sellers and the buyers see the people behind the supply.
He will take the initiative forward as he plans to capture portraits of the sellers and buyers in the city and show the pictures to people in Krishnagiri as well.
The art exhibition will be held for two days – April 30 and May 1 – and has already had its fair share of success. Auto drivers who transport the goods have been able to identify the faces from the photographs. “They even named few,” says Sandeep with delight.
“Looking at this, I get a sense of community and belonging,” says Farhan Ibnee Abid, one of the visitors of the public art gallery. As many as 32 photographs are on display on the first floor of the flower market.
Sandeep’s project is part of a five-year-old project supported by 1Shantiroad Studio. “This is also an initiative to move art out of the galleries. It is a conscious effort to bring photography into the public realm,” says Suresh Jayaram, founder of 1Shantiroad Studio.