Three years ago, fashion designer JJ Valaya took his passion for photography to a different level by capturing images that would serve as his tribute to Delhi. Instead of opting for candid or street photography, Valaya executed a concept shoot entitled ‘Paradox decoded.’ The idea was to recreate characters from the Mughal and Rajput era and place them in contemporary Delhi. Given his fixation on royalty, he made his models, comprising friends and staff, wear grand costumes that he designed. He then put them in “unstaged” settings, like in a goat market at Jama Masjid, on the pavement in Old Delhi, and at a dhobhi ghat in Connaught Place. “I have put characters from that era in present day chaos. Another way to look at it is that I have juxtaposed rich with distressed,” said Valaya, who is not formally trained in photography.
15 of the 27 pictures taken for the Paradox decoded project are on display at the Threshold art gallery. This is first in the gallery’s planned series of programmes on the theme of ‘Revisiting Beauty.’ “We will have programmes that convey various notions of beauty as interpreted by personalities in different creative fields,” said Tunty Chauhan of Threshold.
The images do not have captions as Valaya wants viewers to interpret each image. “My focus was that the entirety of the composition had to be something new. That is where my job as a photographer ends. Beyond that, I leave it to the viewer to interpret,” he said. The most challenging part of the project was the casting which took two months. “I had a general idea in my mind about the people who would be part of the project. I had to decide on the specifics of it,” he said.
JJ Valaya’s pictures will be on display till October 20 (Closed on Sundays), 11am to 7pm at Threshold art gallery, C- 221, Sarvodaya Enclave