By Laura Werling
At 511 Gallery in New York, a new exhibit recently opened; a series of photographs by Benjamin Faga, called On the Way to Chroma Green. In the exhibit, Faga explores the rising impact of globalization on small rural villages of India. To research and observe the idea, Faga traveled to Andore, a small village in northwestern India. There, with the help of the villages’ residents, he analyzed the idea of the practice of their own traditions as a means of studying the social structure of small communities.
Andore is a village that has made its’ living on farming and cloth dying. However, the village has been significantly affected by capitalism and industrialization, and working men and women can no longer make a living through their traditional cloth dying. Inspired by the work and cultural tradition, Faga put together a workshop for the people of the village; proposing the idea of coming together to dye a chroma green screen. Faga then captured the villagers candidly in front of the screen to produce a series of portraits on display for his first solo exhibition in New York.
The chroma green screen acts as a symbol of the modern technology-based culture of the West. The placement of the screen in the rural village landscape demonstrates the spread and influence of globalization all over the world.
This creates a contradiction, though: this set was made by the villagers themselves, through a revival of their cultural practice, which shows a control of their own societal circumstances while neither reversing Western influence nor disregarding their past traditions. With that understanding, this is the principle of Faga’s project: the villagers participating in the act of creation by dying the screen uncovers their effective role in reinterpreting the ideas of modernity and tradition as two connected concepts rather than isolated and separate notions.
The exploration of the complexities of globalization in this series of photographs is inspiring. Faga’s plan to create moments to capture and to create work that highlights the connection between two seemingly disconnected ideas is very intriguing. On another note, the photos themselves are striking. That particular shade of green is almost shocking against the beautiful rural Indian landscape.
Faga lives and works in London and has participated in several group shows, including Pork at Bermondsey Project Space, in London, and Talk to Me, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 511 Gallery, a contemporary art gallery, is the proud host of his first solo show in the United States, and is located at 252 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY Suite 12J, 10001. On the Way to Chroma Green will be on display through December 9, 2011.