Darshan is a sanskrit word that means vision or view and is most commonly used in the context of Hindu worship. It can also be defined as an apparition, or a glimpse. One may seek and receive the darshan of a deity and upon sight that Darshan may invoke an immediate connection between that deity and the devotee. A Darshan can ultimately be described as an experience purposed on helping one focus and call out to his or her sense of spirituality.
Darshan is a fine art series that aims to photographically recreate nine classical images of Gods and Goddesses pivotal to mythological stories in Hinduism. My vision for this work is to have the reproductions that measure six feet tall. The final presentation of this work would resultantly be a massive print installation in a museum that closely mimics the experience of a Hindu temple, complete with incense, lamps and invocations, accompanied by detailed texts. about the mythological significance of that deity.
We may have seen paintings and sculptures used to illustrate Hindu deities all over the world; However, it’s the use of a rarely explored medium like photography to culturally preserve the Indian heritage that lends a uniqueness to the project. To make imagery for Darshan, an exhaustive research about each God and Goddess lead to forming a team of thirty five craftsmen in India to create props, sets, prosthetics, make up, costumes and jewelry; All of this was taken to the level of exacting measures. The creation of these photographic icons naturally requires substantial monetary investment. I have so far created a total of five images out of nine in the series. I self funded the making of the first image as a proof-of-concept and fundraised over $26,000 via a collaborative funding effort with over 400 individual supporters. This effort lead to successful press with notable national and international names like New York Times, NPR and Life with speaking engagements at the Rubin Museum of Art focused on Indian Mythology and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
I would encourage you to take a look at the production videos below that showcase the scale of this production. I aim for Darshan to transform the museum into temple allowing people from all cultures to walk into a Hindu experience and participate in the traditions of one of the oldest cultures of the world. With four more images remaining to create I currently seek grants for the completion of this series.
You can support Darshan by way of purchasing a few remaining limited editioned signed Maa laxmi 8x10 prints or a pack of five greeting cards.
Should you be interested in large prints of these works, kindly reach Richard Levy Gallery
The Press for Darshan can be Chronologically followed here
New York Times Lens Blog
NPR Picture Blog
The Sunday Guardian
Wired Magazine Raw File
You tube Photo Channel
This project was shot on premises of Bharti Vidya Peeth school of Photography in Pune, India. Many thanks to Rajan Chaughule and Siddharth for his support.
A special thanks for Duggal Labs
Mr. Baldev Duggal owner of the labs who believed in the project and especially Mr. Karl Rudisill who was the production advisor for the printing of these works. Both helped in the sponsorship of the kickstarter print rewards which helped me direct funds towards the actual making of the images.
A big shout to my retouchers Amanda May, Carol Tessitore and Kevin Goggin and for their time and faith in the project.
The video team for all the Darshan Videos have clocked countless hours!
A big shout out to Sandhya Kochar, Sagree Sharma, Greg Miller, Manish Gurbani, Anand Tharaney, Amelia Coffaro, Anahit Pogosian for their friendship and encouragement through this project.
Many Assistants have taken the time to carefully photograph moments behind the scenes of Project Darshan. I sincerely appreciate their time and effort.
Ashish Gurbani, Dilnaaz Mehta, Mukul Anand, Umit talavia, Cheryl Bhornia and Varun Sathe.
I thank you all deeply for allowing Darshan to come to life. You contribution will always be considered priceless..
© Manjari Sharma 2012 - All Rights reserved