Round about: Corbusier’s city bonds a son to his father

  • Nirupama Dutt, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 10, 2016 14:01 IST
Matt Sclarandis (HT Photo)

Matt Sclarandis, 29, an Italian designer who works in Goa, has his eyes on Chandigarh, the city that inspired his father and famous photographer Piergiorgio Sclarandis (1939-2016) to write a book called ‘Chandigarh: Le Corbusier in India’.

The legendary photographer’s death following Alzheimer’s disease a few months ago inspired Matt to know his legacy better, for the two have been apart for a long after his father married the second time and moved to the US.

Ever since he took a job with a design company in Goa, and travelled south, Matt’s heart was yearning to see Chandigarh — “the city that fascinated his father so much that it resulted in a book comprising stunning monochrome photographs of Le Corbusier’s architecture”.

When he heard about his father’s death, Matt’s determination grew stronger, and he decided that Chandigarh will be the place to start his journey to document his father’s photographic legacy. He wished to resurrect a relationship torn apart by Alzheimer’s disease, and also experience his father’s love for adventure, travel, and studying different cultures.

Photographer Piergiorgio Sclarandis (HT Photo)

Piergiorgio’s story of reaching the East is quite incredible. At 23, he quit his job in Italy, bought himself a Lambretta scooter, and started an overland journey to India and Nepal. On the road, he decided he would like to live the life of a travelling lensman.

So he did. And he struck a chord with the Corbusier’s architecture when he visited Chandigarh in 1963.

In his own words, as recorded by an interviewer, “When I visited Chandigarh for the first time, I felt it was just a new city designed by a European architect trying to impose his creativity on Third World people. But now, I realise my first impression was wrong; it was superficial due to my limited knowledge then. I knew very little about Le Corbusier and his work. That was a long time ago; 36 years back, to be precise.”

What is remarkable is that while he chose to photograph the rest of India in colour, he went black and white for Chandigarh, while capturing the textures and the dramatic structures of the master architecture.

A picture by Piergiorgio Sclarandis (HT Photo)

So Matt, who inherited his love for travel and the artistic streak from his father, decided it was time to know more about his dad and his legacy. “Our characters are strongly influenced by those we love — and the first among them are parents. My wish is that after the completion of the documentary, many of our supporters and viewers will be inspired to reconnect with their loved ones. Hopefully, it will happen before it is too late.”

So the designer, the artistic leader of a team of arty adventurers, including an Indian friend, is ready to move forward. “We are reaching Chandigarh on July 13, and shoot a part of the documentary till July 15. Then we will then fly to Srinagar, from where we are going to take motorbikes for a ride till Manali via Leh,” said Matt.

How it all become a reality? Matt started a crowd-funding for ‘Warm Shadow a Photographer’s Legacy Documentary’, though the target was much less than. The funding was a little above one-third of the target ($10,000), but the 93 contributors gave warmly a sum of $3,385, setting the group for an adventurous journey.

Matt says: “I want everyone, not just the fundraisers, to take interest in our cause. People can follow the adventure online, and see our travel pictures on Instagram at @motornomad.”

Seems like these young nomads are ready to get on to a journey of love.

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