Concept and photography by Farheen Fatima
Our home is becoming a labyrinth. It is becoming unliveable, cold, hostile, gray, blue. It seems as if it wants to push us all out and, at the same time, envelop us in an inescapable embrace. There is a sense of infusion in the air. We don't know whether our own home wants us or not, whether it desires our evacuation. We took it lightly while it held us close. We thought it'd always love us, keep us, take care of us. But it grew roots and paths while we weren't looking, at least not looking at it. We spent too much time only looking at ourselves as a species and trying to make our home, our world better for us. But it rebelled. It grew apart from us. We thought we were its biggest creation and it's most significant, but it didn't care. It was an artist that kept on painting, myriads of universes beyond us. These many worlds keep growing inside our home and we are surrounded by things that scare us, confuse us, but still belong to the same home.
The subject of these photographs represents our existence in this new world. In the dome of this seemingly all-consuming coldness, there is still warmth. There is growing attention to what's around, a heightening consciousness of life. We are learning to see, to notice. The cold tones of these images seem to be all-encompassing and drowning. They form a bubble around the subject, and it seems like that's all there is to life now. She seems to stand out in the photographs but is a part of her surroundings. She isn't more or less important than what is around her, she's just more noticeable in these moments.
The cactus is not an attractive plant to look at. It is not a peony, not a sunflower, but it thrives. Endlessly, in conditions that would kill everything else, it grows on and endures. It symbolizes patience and determination in its refusal to bow down to its surroundings and a stubborn will to grow. While the world grows in a separate vein and develops its own existence, the cacti grow on. They look at the changes around them, they observe and adapt.
In these images, the cacti have grown to absurd, looming heights. Despite the antagonism of the dome, it thrives. The subject moves towards the cactus. To survive in this confusion, she'll have to learn from what she finds around her. She'll have to soak in whatever she finds, imagine herself being made of strength and durability, learn to live.
She embraces it, imitates it. Her body moves to copy the dance of the cactus, to look like it, to be it. She seems to be consumed by her observation and is calm in this consumption. She follows the ways of her forefathers, who learned from what they looked at and copied it till they took on its best qualities. Her face betrays no emotions, no anxiety, no joy. She is the cactus.
She is warmth personified. Like the cactus, which is a plant of hot places, she is warm all over. From the intense red hue of her dress to the bronze flush of her skin, she is the heat. She stands out in the grayness of the dome and shines like a sun. She is learning, she is growing too. Though she'll never grow the cactus's thorns, her body will never have its roughness, in essence, she has become the cactus. She is willing to learn and accept and fight against what she has to. She has appropriated the cactus and now the labyrinth feels like a home once again.
is a Chandigarh based photographer and visual artist. She holds two Masters degrees in History and History of Visual Art from Panjab University. She is an independent fashion and portrait photographer. She has exhibited at Lalit
Kala Exhibitions, the All-India Women Artists’ Contemporary Art Exhibition, and several art pop-ups and group art exhibitions. Her work has been featured in Better Photography magazine, Getty Images reportage, VSCO Selects, Curator Magazine among others.