Sushavan Nandy, based in Kolkata, focuses on the climate catastrophe, society, culture and the crises experienced by humankind collectively. He enjoys working on long-term photographic projects as it allows him to delve deep and explore issues in depth rather than simply scratch the surface; he has been published by the Guardian, CNN, New York Magazine, Vogue India, British Journal of Photography, and many others.
As a young child Nandy experienced the effects of climate change. He lived in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal in India together with his family but due to the recurring floods in the early 1990s, they had to move to Kolkata in search for safety and stability. This is when the photographer came to the realisation that climate change has direct far-reaching consequences, affecting lives and relationships, not just landscape and property.
Since 2017, I have been exploring the ramifications of climate change in the Sundarbans region of India and the resilience of its inhabitants. The villagers might be unaware of the term “sea level rise”, but their lives are testament to it. My images are made in collaboration with the locals based on oral storytelling and their collective knowledge. A way to preserve their unrecorded stories before they disappear with the shrinking islands.
The photographs are muted in their palette - there is no harsh contrast or brash colours, everything is subtle, almost calm and serene. This allows the viewer to focus on what is portrayed, i.e. the subject matter, rather than the way in which it was depicted. We see oranges and other fruit floating in the ocean as well as boats that are extremely close to the shore — it’s easy to assume that this is the effect of strong unexpected winds.
A scarecrow fallen in the drenched grass is another subtle hint; it must have been blown away. One of the most powerful images for me is the one of a boy (or a man, it’s not quite clear) with a baby lamb — the framing is simply exquisite. It’s done in such a way that there’s a double-take when we first see it as the lamb’s face is almost perfectly aligned with the human’s. It brings to mind Greek mythology and the centaur — half-man, had horse — but also it serves as a reminder that we are not separate from the natural world. On the contrary, we are part of nature; we are nature, which is something people tend to forget when they get carried away by money and greed.
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