The project ‘Being Gandhi’ is a photo documentation of Bagadehalli Basavaraj, a 46 year old teacher from a village in Karnataka. Basavaraj who was drawn to Gandhi’s principles early in life led him to emulate Gandhi in an attempt to advocate his theories and philosophies. For this purpose he took to a visually stunning act that he has maintained for the last 14 years. He covers himself in silver paint, dresses like Gandhi and walks around the streets of villages and nearby cities. There have also been instances where he stands still for hours on end as a statue. With my documentation of his performance, I attempt to bring his questions and issues of sustained Gandhism to a wider audience and also to present it in a contemporary global context.
Cop Shiva (Shivaraju B.S.), is a documentary photographer. He started his photography career by being a part of an alternative art collective called 1.SHANHTIROAD STUDIO/GALLERY. As a coordinator of this space, he met many local photographers and artists, from India and abroad, which enriched his art practice.
Cop Shiva started to document the complexity of rural and urban India. He focuses on people and portraiture as a genre. He is fascinated with the idea of masquerade and the roles people play in public and private. One of the most acclaimed projects involved documenting the life of a rural school teacher, named Bagadehalli Basavaraj, as a Gandhi impersonator. This project has evolved to include a broader reached, that is to look at Gandhi’s ideals in contemporary India.
Moreover, Cop Shiva’s portfolio includes a series of intimate portraits of urban migrants, people of alternative sexuality, street performers and others living in the hinterland of urban and rural conflict. Shiva continues to capture the diversity of humans who live on the edge and represent the spirit of our times.
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