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L O S T – A Series of Photographs by Adil Manzoor

Apr 10, 2021

With a camera in hand, Adil Manzoor returns home to his Kashmir, and in returning, he also returns to a silence that is familiar yet strange. In these photographs, Adil tries to locate that silence in multiple ways, where photography as an “objective” visual medium traces in black and white the subjective and intersubjective matter of thought, distraction, meditation, loss and entrancement. The young photographer finds these situated in a silence that is peculiarly Kashmiri and that is drawn on Kashmiri landscapes and on the Kashmiri faces he captures in black and white.

Coming back home after a long time, one looks around and realises nothing has changed. Nothing, except the size of a general store outside one's house. People are still lost while sitting. The silence is still deafening. Whoever I meet at home says, I’m fine with a pause in it. Fine—if sliced down to pieces reveals only silence. In these photos I have tried to pour out my emotions about what I felt it was like to be here by capturing the expressions of others around me. When you talk to people, they will always try to appear happy by smiling in your presence, but nobody knows what they’re going through. They keep with them a silence that begs to speak, while not a single word is uttered. Look around within these photographs and you will see more than what I have to say here about them. My silence mirrors the silence of those depicted in such visuals. The black and white seemed to set the tone to grasp the subjective in a visual manner through medium of photography.

When one can’t run to a loved one, when one runs away from the crudeness of a social reality, away from the control of a politics that has a clutch on the body and the mind, and that crushes the spirit and narrows the pathways of escape driving them towards hopelessness, cynicism and despair, it is there and then when one runs to open fields, to rivers, to forests and pastures full of silent standing trees. All such places understand and speak the language of silence. You can hear that language in the wind and in the chirping of the birds. Sometimes it is enough to mute the storms of thought within, sometimes it helps to zone out from the terrible noise and fright of this wicked world.

Possessed by something else while having tea, a photo of my mother immersed in silent thoughts.

Pensive as we become, lost in thought while going from one place to another, somewhere in Kashmir while the Sumo (passenger vehicle) picks up pace, maintains its speed and then stops at various spots to pick up and drop off passengers or to remain in queue at a checkpoint or two. It is hard not to get lost in thought or to withdraw far within the realm of thinking.

A false laugh. She can laugh for hours, another side to a sadness of ages resting within.

Disoriented while talking on the phone. The moment she dropped her phone, she didn’t remember what was going on around her. That is when she realized how disoriented she was from the happenings around her, faraway from the immersed state of distraction that conversations offer. It all happened within a few seconds. The camera captured the split-second movement of her head from one side to the other.

Lost like the others somewhere where even she doesn't know, a place that exists like a third space, out there somewhere, or deep within, that space of reflection, recollection, and that space of trance where the mind stops rushing as one looks to the horizon and the moving background. It is there where we connect with some other side of ourselves, and perhaps she has gone there without anyone, other than the camera, noticing.

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About the Contributor

Adil Manzoor is currently completing his M.A. in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia. He tries to speak through his photographs and the visual language that sets their tone.

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