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Taha Ahmad

Posted on October 23 2017

Thanks to his work, the Indian photographer Taha Ahmad intends to engage us in his world, and he does that with a very specific focus. Interested in documentary photography since his Bachelor degree..

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Photography for me has a strong influence in creating and developing discourse for the future. It is one such universal language which can bring about a change in the society or a positive revolution. - T. A.

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Thanks to his work, the Indian photographer Taha Ahmad intends to engage us in his world, and he does that with a very specific focus. Interested in documentary photography since his Bachelor degree years, he is already a talented and affirmed professional, beside his young age (he was born in 1994). In fact, recipient of the Neel Dongre Grant/Award for Excellence in Photography 2016/2017 and of the scholarship Magnum workshop and Masterclass, he has already published his pictures on several magazines such as “The Sunday Guardian” and “Times of India”, among the others.

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Since documentary photography is his main interest, Ahmad believes that reality – shot in its multiple aspects – needs to be his work’s principal subject: in that way, he can talk about something happening in the present and, at the same time, he starts a discourse involving the future.
One of his most recent photographic research is called Swan Song of the Badlas: a series of pictures based in Lucknow, Taha’s hometown, where a group of artisans (badla) has been producing for centuries a precious, metallic embroidery. The evocative black and white pictures want to highlight a significant tradition that is about to disappear, but also the extremely bad conditions the artisans deal with every day of their life. And the importance around this photos is demonstrated by their intensive and spreading circulation around the world – from the India Photo Festival (2017) to the Outdoor Photo Festival in North Carolina (USA, 2018), from Europe to Malaysia as well.

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Author Silvia Colombo

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L.A.: Hello Taha, how and when did you become interested in photography?
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Taha Ahmad: I developed an interest in documentary photography while pursuing my bachelors degree in Fine Arts from India. My search for a strong channel through which I could develop a dialogue for future, a plurality of perspectives and approaches capturing socio-economic and cultural similarities, living or working conditions, which many may perceive as inhuman, discriminatory, unjust or harmful resulted in me becoming a documentary photographer.
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L.A.: What led you to work in Mukaish Badla project?
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Taha Ahmad: Lucknow’s culture has always compelled me to dig into the roots of its rich civilization, which has always been a centre for arts and literature in the diverse landscape of India. Being born and brought up in Lucknow, India ,the Gomti River, which flows through the city, always reminded me of its royal splendour. As I grew close to the city, I was introduced to the city’s art and craft which became an important moiety of my breath explaining why the city was highly praised for the textile culture. These art and crafts used to blossom and are still a part of each and every family in Lucknow. But as the city got developed and modernised some of these beautiful arts started to fade away in the mist. One such art and craft form is 'Mukaish Badla' which once used to involve the use of real gold and silver wires. Seeing this beautiful metallic embroidery breathing its last breaths in eere silence motivated me to be a voice to the art as well as the artisans, a voice which can be universally represented through the visual medium of photography. 'Art is not dying, the Artist is' !
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Lost Identity │ Buy it
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L.A.: Do you have a favorite shot in this series? If so, which one and why?
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Taha Ahmad: Yes I do. The photograph which is titled 'Broken Wings' is my favourite shot since it delivers a hope for the dying art by juxtaposing the flying Indian Rock Pigeons with the young family members of one of the Indian Badla Artisan who are straightening the muakish fabric. It serves as a hymn of an mystical force which compels me to embrace reality and have an essence of the glorious past, when this art used to blossom in each and every corner of the city..

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L.A.: What is it like being a documentary photographer?
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Taha Ahmad: Well, Its a huge responsibility. The bar of the documentary photography has gone really high and one needs to be more selective, consistent and open to have their assumptions challenged. Also one need to move onto the path of creating their own style and identity and not just be another Bresson or Rai.
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Broken Wings │ Buy it
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Suffocating Demise │ Buy it
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L.A.: What does photography mean to you or what is your statement as a photographer?
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Taha Ahmad: Photography for me has a strong influence in creating and developing discourse for the future. It is one such universal language which can bring about a change in the society or a positive revolution. Photography preserves the everyday reality, which I feels is undergoing an everlasting change. 
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L.A.: What are you working on now?
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Taha Ahmad: Currently I am working on my three personal long term projects.
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Hanging by a Thread │ Buy it
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A Caged Life │ Buy it
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