If you are in the Charlotte, NC area between now and Dec. 10, head to Davidson College to see Fazal Sheikh’s powerful "Beloved Daughters." This exhibit brings together photography and text from Moksha and Ladli, his two most recent books that focus on the lives on women in India. Sheikh explains on his Web site the draw to his focus on women in India: "I realized that, even now, when India is rapidly joing the first world economy, their very gender, from conception, makes women the potential victims of a patriarichal system which tactically condones their explotation, mistreatment, even death." In combining the topics of his two books, the exhibit portrays the lives of dispossesed widows and the effects of prejudices and sexism against women in India from the moment they are conceived.
Much of Sheikh’s work throughout his career has focused on displaced peoples. Personally, what I really appreciate in his photography is that he takes the time to connect with and understand the people he is capturing. He does not take a snapshot of a person just because he feels it will make for a dramatic or radical photograph; he interviews his subjects and takes, as he describes "contemplative and respectful" photos. In his books, he includes these interviews and his impressions, really bringing a personal background to the photos but leaving enough for the observer to find their own impressions to take away from the work.
If you have the chance, check out one of his exhibits. Currently, "Beloved Daughters" is being shown at the Van Every/Smith Galleries, Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center at Davidson College, N.C. No tickets are required, but if you have questions, the school’s site directs you to contact gallery director Brad Thomas at 704.894.2519.