“Do yourself a favour. Before it’s too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it.” When Ashoke Ganguli had said this to Gogol Ganguli, he was probably talking about finding himself in his travels. One would be surprised if we were to say that the COVID lockdown has brought to us the opportunity to take one of the most enlightening journeys. In fact, it has, as the Great Indian Lockdown has presented us with the chance to pause and to travel within ourselves and take a closer look at ourselves, for it’s within us that all our answers lie.
Says 25-year-old Mumbai-based photographer Kirti Virmani, “being in isolation has taught us some very simple things about us as humans. We can have the entire world within us if we look closely. We have all the questions and we have all the answers. The task is to listen to our thoughts closely and quietly. What we seek in the outside world is already deep within ourselves.”
Locked down in her Mumbai home with her flatmates, Kirti has put together, what she calls an “ongoing photo series,” to capture the meaning of life in its rawest disposition. To her, this project is about the wounds, “some unearthed, some healed, some tackled, and some forgotten.” Going through the journey of life, we often forget that the minute makes the whole. Kirti continues, “this time in self-isolation has taught us to be patient, with people around us and ourselves, mentally and physically. There are only some things we can do or not do in times like these. The point is to stop, take a deep breath, heal, and love ourselves.”
Kirit’s photo story is as personal as personal gets. She literally bares herself and her models as she traces the contours of the signifiers of their being. She pauses and shuts her eyes. Probably to look within. She tries to hide as she uncovers her real self. Memories, to Kirti, are her biggest inspiration. She asserts, “my biggest inspiration over the years would be memories. Memories of childhood, family, people I meet, and life around me. A lot of my personal series is based on such memories and the thoughts they evoke.” As she delves deeper into her lived experiences, she unearths the meaning that lies to being mortal, to feeling joy, to bearing pain, and to living with hurt, guilt, and well, memories of moments.
Being sanguine about the universal pause that the ongoing pandemic has given way to, Kirti says that we should cherish these moments as “this time has given us the opportunity to understand what really matters and personally has helped me focus on my thoughts and visions more strongly.”
The perceived ‘new normal’ will probably be a lot slower. It will probably involve less traffic, lesser competition, more humility, and more acknowledgement of what truly matters in life. Kirti hopes for the permanence of these changes. “Patience, being more aware of our feelings and of those around us and a general sense of ‘theharaav’ (staying put), is what I hope we take forward,” she continues.
It is Kirti’s firm conviction that, “we are all going to come out from this stronger and better human beings. Better to ourselves and to others.”
Kirti’s favourite piece of work so far is her photo series ‘CityBoy’ based on her brother. You can find it and other works on Behance.
Follow Kirti on Instagram here.
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