Participating in an artist's residency program at Kriti Art Gallery, I spent two consecutive Februaries in Varanasi, India (2018 and 2019), photographing people putting on their clothes.
It started simply enough: a fascination with and love of the colors and patterns of traditional clothing as seen on the streets of India. Then the curiosity: how do Indian people, many of whom are riding bicycles or motorcycles, working hard at manual labor or carrying children, manage to keep on their clothing—which have no fasteners.
I photographed four of the basic traditional garments: the sari, which most women still wear and which provides India with with unforgettable color; the dhoti, a skirt-like garment worn by men; the langot, sometimes used as underwear but also the official attire of wrestlers; and the pagadi, a head wrap.
As Hindu tradition would have it, prior to the British invasion, any piece of fabric pierced by a needle (or anything) was considered impure, and thus unwearable. Susbsequent to the British arriving, women were obliged to wear blouses under their saris, and, as they were fashioned to fit, sewing was required.
Now, of course, fabric is pierced all the time: embellishments are sewn-on, petticoats have seams, even safetly pins are used to secure the modestly of the attire, However, a sari is still raw yardage, as are dhotis, and pagadis: no buttons, no zippers, no hooks.
No matter the attire, it is the grace that continues to awe me. Not only are the fabrics with their drape and color beautiful, there is a careful choreography involved in simply putting on one's clothing.