It was one of those evenings in Calcutta over Chaa. As the last few drops of my ginger-laced tea slurped between my lips, I heaved out a huge sigh saying, “The city that it was!”. Hailing from a city where I have seen love blossom over Communist meetings, revolution running through veins, yet encapsulated by rich culture, literature and rituals, I had always considered Bengalis to be a synonym for the “Intellectually Elite”, a community of Tagore, Teresa, Ray and the like. The city never fails to produce powerhouses of talent, even to this date. The universe (and social media) has rather been kind to bring some of these talented souls to me.
I came across Kounteya Sinha, an internationally acclaimed photographer, traveller and journalist from Calcutta, while he was working on “The Sainthood Project” in 2016. I was mindblown by his perspective of the City of Joy. Coinciding with Mother Teresa’s Canonization as a Saint in the Vatican, this project had successfully turned the cobbled streets of Rome into an Art Gallery. Another of his projects, “Stone – Being and Becoming” hosted 50 Rickshaw Pullers at a city’s art gallery paying special tribute to them.
If there was anything that I learned about Kounteya, it was his unpredictability. His photographs reflect the dichotomy of his soul – free yet culturally rooted. Even the grayscale images can paint one’s soul with palettes of emotions. They’ll gnaw at your soul yet leave you with a smile.
This year, his Summer Repertoire is no stranger to his creative unpredictability.
Change, as they say, is the only constant and the city’s architectural icons are no exception. These majestic marvels by human hands now stand dilapidated, ruined in neglect and anonymity. Modernity and sophistication need not be attained at the cost of a city’s heritage. With this philosophy, Kounteya’s new project, VIVA, Spanish for Alive aims to bring in the awareness, “A city is truly known by what it keeps”. In the first of it’s kind of exhibition, a 200 year old building in North Calcutta would be showcasing over 35 incredible photographs by Kounteya from across the world and Kolkata, bringing alive stories across civilisations through architectural marvels.
48B Muktaram Babu Street (near Marble Palace)
16th to 18th March 2018
This will be hosted by Calcutta Heritage Collective – a voluntary citizen’s initiative – formed with the objective of restoring, reviving and promoting the built heritage in Kolkata and West Bengal through a broad range of activities, including creative re-use and conservation of properties, and spreading awareness in a number of ways. They are committed to honor our unique and irreplaceable inheritance by marrying heritage with urban development. They are united by our dream and our aim as well as our Vision to Respect Restore and Reuse Heritage and carry it forward as a Living Legacy.