The black-and-white picture captures a window. A curtain flanks the left side of the frame and, through the window, triangular patterns of the grill add patterns to the picture. Central to the frame is the silhouette of a pigeon perched on the sill, with its neck arched at a peculiar angel.
The accompanying caption is equally peculiar: “Everywhere I stay, I see them pigeons perched outside the window. I used to be scared of them, their popping red eyes, their gurgling at all hours, the smell they leave behind. But, now, I feel they are protectors, watch-birds; dearest nature looking out for me, wherever I am, standing guard at all hours. See that observant angle to the neck?” writes Mumbai-based Adwaita Das, who has clicked the picture.
Das’s picture is one of 52 pictures that capture windows from across the world, with captions that describe what they mean to their photographer.
TheWindowProject (TWP) is a social media platform by a Mumbai-based documentary production house, Camera and Shorts (CnS). It was launched in May this year, and has quickly garnered a following of close to 20,000 on Facebook.
A change in perspective
“The idea for TheWindowProject was inspired by a documentary we were working on in March this year,” says Joelle Fernandes (22), the executive producer at CnS and a founding member of TWP. The documentary she talks of is titled Unreserved, where members of CnS undertook a 17-day train journey across India to gather stories of the common people. “It gave us a sense of the varied perspectives people have of the world through a common medium. For Unreserved, it was a train. For TWP, it is the window,” says Fernandes.
TWP calls for submissions from across the world. The first they received was by Dipika Champaneri, who sent a picture of a triangular window that overlooked a construction site next to the mangrove stretch in Sewri, Mumbai. She wrote about how nature and concrete were morphing. “The project showcases the different ways in which people think, realisations of how we overlook the most integral part of our homes — a window, and the view of the world it provides,” says Fenandes.
TWP has also received entries from Washington DC, USA, and St Petersburg, Russia. “A museum is considered to be a window to the past. But what do the windows of a museum look out to? Are you seeing the past or is the past looking at you?” is the text accompanying the window from St Petersburg.
Looking at home
Yet, Fernandes’s favourite pictures are from Mumbai. “One of our followers clicked a picture of his mother bargaining with a fruit seller, from his car window. Though the photographer only described her shopping skills, to me the picture was a testimony to the city of Mumbai and its unapologetic vigour,” says Fernandes.
Though currently limited to an online forum, Fernandes plans to convert the project into a set of postcards. “An exhibition is a possibility, but as of now, postcards will help get us more recognition,” says Fernandes.