Sameer Raichur is an independent photographer based in Bangalore, India. He graduated with distinction from the Hallmark Institute of Photography; Turners Falls, MA in 2012, necessary course correction after a brief stint in a corporate law firm.
His personal work frequently revolves around the themes of family and kinship. He was awarded the Toto Funds the Arts, Emerging photographer of the year, 2015.
His work has been part of the following group exhibitions • An Lanntair Arts Centre - Stornoway, Scotland; 7th Aug – 29th September, 2017. Fòcas India, 2017-2018 Document shortlist Exhibition. • Max Mueller Bhavan / Goethe Institut, Bangalore. November 6-18, 2015. • Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai. Focus Photography Festival, 2015 - ‘Call for Entries’ exhibit.
Sameer’s projects often take him to the Indian countryside, he draws inspiration from the diversity of culture and landscape between urban and rural India. His editorial work (mainly travel and portrait assignments) have been published in Forbes, GQ, Verve and Silkwinds magazines.
Artist Statement 'Chariots of frolic' depicts indigenously designed and fabricated wedding chariots found in Thiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu. The chariots are hired on the night of a wedding reception to have the bride and groom driven around town to announce their betrothal. The extended families usually walk along with the chariots in a procession designed to convey the families' wealth and social status. The chariots illustrate the kitsch, pomp and fanfare that accompany Indian weddings.
I have been shooting these chariots since December, 2017- having made 4 trips to various towns in the area and photographing 26 such vehicles. During the residency, I want to continue the project in the towns of Kanchipuram and Thiruvannamalai, a 2 and 4 hour drive from Madras respectively. My intention is to photograph other interesting variations of these chariots that I have observed on previous trips and bring the total number of photographed chariots to 30.
Apart from making images, I’m going to make a short film to contextualize - the towns in which these vehicles are used, the people whose livelihoods depend on them and the people who hire them. Ideally, I will visit the fabricators of these vehicles, document the activity around a chariot in the build up to a wedding, interview workers connected to the industry and follow a procession on the night of a wedding.
The start of the residency - 15th January, falls in the auspicious period for weddings according to Tamil Hindu ritual. I anticipate the travel to take about a week to ten days. On my arrival in Madras, I will spend a week on the post processing of the video and finally production of the exhibition.
During the remainder of the residency - I intend to continue an ongoing project about single- screen theatres. The project began with an exploration of the loss of indigenous architectural design
due to the gentrification of my neighbourhood where the number of single screen theatres has halved in the past decade. Urban single screen theatres in India are threatened by the boom in real estate prices and the rise of multiplexes/shopping malls. While a lot of nostalgic fondness prevails, single screen theatres in Bangalore are uniformly experiencing poor profitability, prompting owners to divest to property developers.
Shooting in Madras would be a great addition to the project because of it’s resistance to urban homogenisation. The first multi-screen theatre in India, Safire Cineplex opened here in 1964. It is probably this pedigree that has ensured that locally owned theatres, some of which date back to the 70’s, continue to compete against behemoths with a national presence. Madras is also home to one of the handful of drive-in theatres in India.
Apart from photographing the façades, interiors and still-life within these theatres the plan is to interview and make portraits of people connected to the industry. One of the characters I have identified is KN Srinivasan, a Madras-based nonagenarian architect, credited with designing over 80 single screen theatres in India.