The famous Indian photographer Raghubir Singh once said - “In the body of India, the past and present breathe side by side. They are the two lungs of India.” In my opinion, this sensibility that a country has both a past and present, is what separates a Native photographer from a White photographer (who parachutes to another country to “document” it). 
The proliferation of orientalism and the White Male Gaze in contemporary photography agitates me because the West still views India from a myopic and colonial lens. This depiction of India by “star” White photographers (like Steve McCurry) also shapes how Indian photographers (especially those hungry for Instagram fame) perceive and document their own country and people. Such Indian photographers keep repeating the same visual tropes used by Western photographers. They try to produce images of India close to the mental image of India and Indians that a Western audience has. This leads to a very one-dimensional visual documentation of a country as large and diverse as India. The overabundance of such imagery of India reinforces the colonial stereotypes about India (for example - India is still a land of snake charmers). This approach in contemporary photography also leads to the “othering” of Indians. Hence, the White Male Gaze and orientalist approach in photography are serious issues with broader socio-cultural implications. 
My project ‘The Land of Snake Charmers’ aims to criticise this phenomenon in photography and visual culture, where India is viewed from a narrow lens and never seen as a ‘Modern Nation.’ India is always relegated to its colonial past. Employing image appropriation as a tool, I have made diptychs to critique this orientalist view towards India. My goal is to show the contrast between the images of India under the White Male gaze and the images of a ‘Modern India’ taken by a Native photographer. With this approach, I want to visually play with ideas such as - the past and present of a country, reality and fantasy, outsider and insider perspective. By contrasting two images side-by-side, I aim to critique and visually ‘fight back’ this one-dimensional representation of my country. I also want the viewers to reflect on how one can authentically document a country and not just indulge in fantastical visual tropes. 
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