The Levee: A Photographer in the American South
The Levee: A Photographer in the American South presents a body of photographs by Sohrab Hura (b. 1981, West Bengal, India) in which the artist explores themes of connection, perspective and place. The landscapes and portraits of The Levee trace Hura’s travel along the Mississippi River from its confluence with the Ohio to the far reaches of the delta in Louisiana. Hura, who lives and works primarily in India, made the pictures on a road trip he took in 2016 while participating in a loosely collaborative documentary project called Postcards from America. Echoing touchstones ranging from Farm Security Administration photography to Robert Frank’s The Americans to Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, Postcards fostered a reexamination of photographic perspective as well as producing rich documentary reflections on contemporary American life.
Hura’s trip along the lower Mississippi coincided with a contentious moment in American politics and social discourse, when the American South was much in the news. Yet The Levee is not a documentary account of political events or a particular social issue. Rather, it is a photographic response to being in a specific time and place, which embraces the complex effects of human perspective and includes the layered, interpenetrating nature of emotion and point of view. Building on metaphor and personal themes of longing and connection, Hura finds a world that looks him in the eye, holds him at the threshold, and buoys up with unlikely tenderness and hope.
The Levee: A Photographer in the American South is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue co-published with the Cincinnati Art Museum and enabled in part by Peter and Betsy Niehoff.
Sohrab Hura was born in 1981 in Chinsurah, West Bengal, India and currently lives in New Delhi. He was nominated to the renowned Magnum Photos collective in 2014, only the second photographer from India to be elected. Hura’s work is centered on photography but he also employs the written word, moving image and sound to explore his position in the world.
Hura has published several award-winning photobooks under the imprint Ugly Dog, including the trilogy Life is Elsewhere (2015), A Proposition for Departure (2017) and Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!! (2018), which deals with his relationship with his mother through her mental illness, and The Coast (2019), which delves into the shifting landscape of fact and fiction in contemporary Indian society. The Levee (an artist’s book that will complement the scholarly catalogue accompanying the Cincinnati exhibition) is the next title anticipated from Ugly Dog. Many of Hura’s published works are linked to time based media and sound productions, including Pati (2010), A Proposition for Departure (installation, 2017), Sweet Life (2017), and The Lost Head & The Bird (2018).
He has exhibited widely, including at Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata; Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn; Oberhausen International Short Film Festival; Vancouver International Film Festival; Image Forum, Tokyo; Moscow International Experimental Film Festival; Berlin Atonal; Shanghai Biennale; Minnesota Street Projects, San Francisco; FotoFest Biennial, Houston; Art Basel, Hong Kong; India Art Fair, Delhi; Bontanique, Brussels; Science Museum, London; and (in fall 2019) Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, England.
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