"The girls who come to the fair have an urge to know [of the outside world]. Those who stepped into my photo tent also wished to portray themselves as they are, or as they see themselves, or to invent new selves for the camera. Their attempts may have been tentative or bold, but this book may be seen as a catalogue of that desire.
I think of Urma and Halima, two girls who belong to the nomadic Jogi community, one that has few rights, that survives precariously on the fringes of villages and small towns and may almost be said to exist outside society as we know it, without access to land, regular employment, schools, healthcare or recourse to law. Urma and Halima came into the tent and sat down very straight on the white plastic chair and the black metal stool, flanking the plastic flower arrangement on its gleaming stand. They looked at the camera with poise and confidence, not unlike the Maharanis of a hundred years ago. This book is for them."
Ballika Mela by Gauri Gill, published by Edition Patrick Frey, will be released in Delhi in September 2012. With 72 black-and-white plates and 32 colour reproductions, essays by Gill herself and Manju Saran (in English and Hindi), the book is a record of Gill’s photo studio set up to take portraits of the predominantly female adolescents who attended the fair in remote and rural western Rajasthan