20 December 2008

afforestation programme

Another response to the global warming situation here is the tree planting programme is SAAP : Sakthi Amma's Afforestation Programme. Here the local hills (you can see them in the background), which are the Kaileshgiri, home of Shiva. Since 2003 the SAAP programme has planted 100 000 trees a year...

...that makes 500 000 trees planted so far...
The hills are government land and it took a little over a year to get the approval to plant the trees.
Here's a shot of the hills close up...

plant more trees

When I was 6 or 7 years old it was one of my dreams to buy land so that I could plant trees all over it... a few years later, I had another dream which was to have some land in an urban centre and make it into a park... so when I visited the garden set up by the Green Guerillas in New York City I was gob smacked by the vision and its impact on the immediate environment.

I had an equally gob-smacking experience when, the other day I photographed Sakthi Amma's reafforestation revolution programme.. because there was the dream I had as a child! 16 000 trees planted (cannot remember over how many acres...)

This programme is Sakthi Amma's response to global warming... plant many many trees... create a green revolution...

Here is Vijayan, the very passionate tree-planting manager:

His message for the world? Plant more trees.

19 December 2008

tea cosy revolution


check out my friend, Tara's blog and her gorgeous work... inspired by australian and french tales which are lovingly told through her objects...

18 December 2008

leading up to pongal (harvest) celebrations

Yesterday morning I was surprised to see this little, precious delight ! I was told that, over the next 4 weeks there are the preparations for the Pongal (harvest) festival - and this little detail is one of them !

Drawn by hand with sand at the entrance of homes and temples and work places... this one was found inside the Sri Narayani temple in front of the doorway leading to one of the offices...

The drawings are made new everyday but it is the flowers,small clump of grass and ghee lamp which is particular to this time of the year...

16 December 2008

the gift of a coconut

I took while we were filming ...

I photographed this home on the side of the road (an isolated house surrounded by fields) as I was so taken by its satellite dish (not very clear in the image - it is to the right of the entrance). I came quite close to photograph and its owner asked (in tamil) if I was thirsty and if I wanted water.

The director's assistant translated and I replied : "no no no", embarassed that I had been caught out photographing his home.

His response?
He climbed a coconut tree, plucked two, came down and cut them open and offered me one...

It was sooooo sweet.
Now that is hospitality.

15 December 2008

unexpected visitors

Yesterday morning, we were filming on this country road, this man and his cow (not sure what type of cow... ) turned up and became a part of the scene.

I was so overtaken by their beauty and their spontaenous visit that I went up to him and asked for a photo - and in return for a few rupees put in the money box which was embroidered into the cow's headpiece, the man got me to bow down so that his lovely four - legged holy friend could bless me...

14 December 2008

Filming in Thirumalakoidi

Here is Kathir, the film director being blessed by the cast / villagers after a scene. Kathir is a really well known film maker in the Tamil speaking world - EVERYONE we met, knew him .. His films are the type which run in cinemas throughout south india for 176 days ... which means millions see them, and the sound tracks become number one hits (something that my director friends in Europe and Australia would LOVE to happen in terms of the exposure/ cinema runs of their films...)

The interesting thing of doing this documentary on Sakthi Amma who is only 32 years old today, is that all the main players in Amma's early life are still alive, the oral history is there... the characters are there... and the fact that we are filming in the village, means access to a people, costumes, props, location... it's all at hand within five minutes... I have never worked on a shoot where everything has unfolded to quickly!

I will be interested to see the result of the work.

Here is Yanan playing the 16 year old Amma, and in the blue sari is the grandmother who was a key person in the young boy's life and during the transference from boy to divine being.

it's a wrap!

08 December 2008

sri narayani ante-natal mobile clinic

Sorry I have not been attending the news on the blog but I my trip to Berlin to complete the GUARDIANS - Cultural Heritage of Sound video installation was REALLY REALLy busy... back in south india to continue the book - and commence editing the GUARDIANS project...

On the weekend I attended the ante-natal mobile clinic where the community health doctor took 16 first year nursing students (the course for auxiliary nurses to assist mid-wives was abolished by the government, so the Sri Narayani Hospital, which delivers a lot of babies has established the course as a part of the Nursing College).

Like all the mobile clinics, the nurses set up a temporary clinic in a village public hall in 10 minutes, performed a puja (prayer ceremony) to declare the space sacred and began receiving young pregnant women from the surrounding villages.

It was really impressive as the students are taught to do everything with so much respect and care... as their teacher said to me on the way back "it's so much more than just teaching them nursing skills, it's also teaching them to how to be in their work and life."

17 November 2008

#65 presented in ARTIST BOOK exhibition, Cyprus


In the framework of "Year of the Book", my artist book, #65 will be part of the ARTISTS' BOOK exhibition, A BOOK FOR A LIFETIME taking place next Friday, 28 Nov at The Artspace, Moufflon Bookstore and Goethe-Zentrumin, Old Nicosia, Cyprus.

The artist book, #65 was first exhibited at Fotofest Biennale's Artists responding to Violence then at Centrum für Photographie, Stockholm.

installation of Artist's book #65

I visited the Closed City of Ozyorsk with scientists from Columbia University, New York in Dec 2003 (already 5 years ago!!!).

14 November 2008

global oneness project


This is a great example of a non-for-profit creating a dialogue with a holistic approach.

worth keeping an eye on.


08 November 2008

my video in Peta Lily's Act of Intimacy at Barbican Theatre UK


My video made for the performance of Peta
Lily's in ACT OF INTIMACY can be seen this coming week at :
Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, UK
15th November at 8PM.

‘..and then the nun told me, ‘people think we don’t understand passion, but we do, we do….’

ACT OF INTIMACY is a confessional. A performer confesses that she gave up theatre, gave up the flesh and blood and sweat and celebration for sesame oil and spiritual practice. A woman dressed in a business suit confesses that she teaches confidence and aims at success while secretly harboring a love of the loser.

Stories of hunger, purpose, blind impulse, timidity and thinking with the heart….

05 November 2008

AROGYA GIFT OF LIFE : 150 healthy hearts before the year is out

Santosh, 1 year old will have a healthy heart before

the end of this year.

Each child was photographed in front of the red background on 2 Nov 2008 at Sri Narayani Peedam to symbolise that they will have a healthy heart by the end of this year.

Each child here received financial aid from Sakthi Amma's ongoing AROGYA GIFT OF LIFE programme for a heart operation in one of the major hospitals of Tamil Nadu which will be completed before the end of the year.

Kandiabban, 2 years old will have heart surgery
(which will save her life) in the next 6 weeks.

Sakthi, 7 years old

Santhya Priya, 3 years old

04 November 2008

AROGYA GIFT OF LIFE - heart operation recipients

Kowsalya 14 months, with her new heart.

Each person who received a heart operation was photographed in front of a sky blue backgroud (literally a sky blue sari hanging from a bamboo stick)...

Purushothaman, 18 years old received his heart operation 19 Aug 2008. He is showing me his letter of gratitude.

Sivasankari, 21 years old, hospital staff received her heart operation 29 April 2008. She told me she was in hospital for the surgery for 22 days.

Kowsalya 14 months old with her mother.
Kowsalya received her heart operation 5th May 2008.

I found it so moving to meet these individuals and to see that, thanks to this operation, they are given a life, and their parents get to keep their child and their siblings get to keep a sister or brother. The child remains within the family structure, so not just the individual lives but all these families are being so profoundly affected through this program.

It really hit home, seeing these families that there have to go through the grief of the death of a child, but will instead exsperience the joy and appreciation of the continuation of the life of their child.

03 November 2008

arogya _ 150 heart operations given to children in south india

This is the final picture of the day for me - Mohammed Tajdeen is the little boy with his parents.

I had grand ideas of photographing the AROGYA event, where Shakti Amma raised enough money for 150 heart operations for children + teenagers (which at $5000 an operation, is a lot of fund-raising). The event took place on 2 Nov and my grand idea was to photograph 30-50 of the children BEFORE they have their operation + then photograph them again in December...

But it all belly - flopped and I only ended up photographing about 8 of the kids (which in retrospective was EXACTLY what was needed : learning about letting go of what I may envisage is best and being open to what is presented... it was painful to go through but a big lesson in itself). That fine line between having a vision and surrendering to the outcome to the larger forces of Life.

So, although I didn't know it, I photographed the young Mohamed Tajdeen from the moment he arrived.
7.30 am registration
Here is his father presenting the letter of acceptance so that the hospital which will operate shall receive the funds for his son's heart operation.

Here is Tajdeen with his mother, I was sitting next to them as the official ceremony was going on. It was the first time a person had stuck a camera to his face.

Here he is receiving oversized cheque from Shakti Amma (in red), a famous film director (don't know his name) who does very humanitarian oriented films and you cannot see him but behind Tajdeens mother is the Chief Justice of India who gave a moving speech about the importance of supporting human life.

What I love in this little story of 4 images and Nathalie's lesson of letting-be-what-is is that this little muslim boy received funding for a new heart (his new life) in a hindu setting : serving humanity is for the world.

02 November 2008

diwali deepavali - festival of lights

Deepavali, the festival of lights happened on the last new moon - I celebrated it at Sri Narayani Peedam : it was my first deepavali and surely my favourite festival on the Hindu calender.

Here is the sri-chakra (the symbol is the image of my profile) created out of 10 008 clay lamps filled with ghee.

As the sri-chakra is symbolic of the goddess, women and girls were the first to lit the centre

The evening ended with blasting fireworks off from the rooftop next to the temple. Normally I am terrified of fireworks - but this was loads of fun.

The shiva-shakti tree on the night of Deepavali, left of the Goddess Narayani Temple.

Every evening between 7-8pm my favourite old priest from this temple teaches the vedas the younger vedic students under this tree.

01 November 2008

sripuram : sri chakra

In continuity with the deepavali photos of the srichakra - here is the giant sri yantra / srichakra at sripuram (where I stayed this past month). The pathway around the temple is in the shape of the srichakra, which means the visitor walks inside the mandela in order to get to the temple.

As the temple sits right in the middle of this giant mandela (and with all the rituals done around and in the temple) - it is very powerful energetically.

Here is a more classic picture of the Sri Lakshmi Narayani temple, taken at dawn last week.

28 October 2008

Sri Narayani Mobile Clinic - the waiting room

This was the second clinic I photographed had a stronger sense of joy , the doctor explained that people here had their own land.

would write more... but internet access not easy here... so just these images today.xxx

27 October 2008

Sri Narayani Hospital Mobile Clinic - portraits

Here is my first set of portraits from the first mobile clinic I attended. Each woman holds a paper, this has her name on it and weight and the prescription will be written on it if she needs free medication.

I found this a really difficult village to be in, I havent yet quite put my finger on it. The following village was easier to photograph as the women seemed to have a stronger sense of themselves, a more marked sense of their own dignity.

Waiting to see the doctor.