In the early months of 2020, Nitesh Mohanty, a talented homegrown visual artist, photographer, and illustrator, unveiled his seminal photobook, 'Nowhere', a poignant collection that stands as his first and only self-published opus. Rooted deeply in the contemporary era, characterized by global sorrow on an unprecedented scale, Mohanty's photographs carve out a reflective sanctuary.
Over the past few years, Mohanty diligently chronicled the profound impact of his wife Diya's battle with a brain tumor, sharing their journey through various social media channels. 'Nowhere' serves as a visual compendium, featuring a curated selection of photographs captured during that tumultuous period. The prevailing emotions within these frames revolve around grief and loss. The book brims with remnants of their shared existence, encapsulating Mohanty's life as a devoted caregiver and his experience as an ardent lover weathering the storm of his partner's ailing health. Though deeply personal, the book and its photographs took on a newfound poignancy in the tremulous year that was 2020, offering solace and guidance to readers navigating the depths of mourning, in light of the pandemic.
At first glance, Mohanty's work might appear reminiscent of the popular genre of inspirational Instagram photography. However, it transcends these boundaries in captivating ways. His photographs fixate on seemingly mundane moments, yet within them, Mohanty manages to capture something far beyond what meets the eye. His metaphors are exquisitely precise, akin to the diverse inspirations that fuel his artistry. The photographs serve as intimate portraits of everyday moments in the life of a caregiver, expertly capturing the nuanced moods and subtle nuances of a specific time and existence. They exude dignity; fully immersing the viewer in their unique milieu.
Through his lens, Mohanty demonstrates a remarkable ability to extract compelling narratives from ordinary objects. In his skillful hands, everyday items become portals to the past, evoking a sense of nostalgia that resonates deeply with the readers. The interspersed poetry in the pages of the photo book also complements its narrative structure.
One of the distinguishing features of Mohanty's visual imagery is its oblique nature. While there may be no direct reference to medications, there exists a strong visual presence symbolizing the extensive hours spent waiting as a caregiver, both at home and in hospitals. This universality allows the photographs to transcend their specific context, capturing the essence of survival amid seemingly insurmountable despair.
Bordering on the edge of voyeurism at times, the images possess a profound personal quality, yet Mohanty knows precisely when to withhold. Sinuous black and white shots offer glimpses into the closely guarded spaces he seeks to capture, but never directly expose them to the reader. Some of the images are heartbreakingly exquisite as if Mohanty has unearthed the raw essence of yearning and grief. Other pictures in the photobook possess a dreamlike quality, rendering an impossible existence, while some pinpoint the profound ache of the nameless loneliness that many of us encounter. Mohanty's photobook is able to use the intricate power of its images to send a universal message of resilience amidst tragedy and despair.
Find out more about Nitesh Mohanty here.