India is a land soaked in colour, spirit and history. It is a country of over a billion people, 22 major languages, 29 States, 9 major religions, 139 million seasonal migrants and 11 million tourists and pilgrims annually. The fluidity of these numbers is impressive.
For Anthea Baxter-Page, the fascination became how it could all work so seamlessly; how that many people could live on top of one another in relative harmony. In her third solo exhibition from her numerous travels in India, Anthea explores how the cohesion of this complex society is revealed through its impact on the architecture. Every fort, palace, archway and corridor is seeped in the history of human experience spanning thousands of years.
In the series Passages, granite, marble and earth appear polished from the constant flow of hands and feet, as people pass through these spaces in acts of ceremony and worship, labour and recreation, conflict and triumph.
In the same way, imperfect surfaces reveal layers of stories in times passed. Crumbling walls once adorned by mirror and jewels reveal a fading majesty. Painted shop walls bear the mark of efforts in trade and labour. Makeshift additions and rushed paint jobs tell the story of a busy life and meagre means. Some images in the series are intentionally disorienting, mirroring the uncertainty of the artist as she navigated unknown terrain in the dizzying crowds.
The title “Passages” is as layered as the peeling paint on every corner. Referring literally to the physical thresholds and pathways that have been traveled billions of times over, “Passages” also acknowledges the undefined space between a past and a future, a beginning and an end. It's the journey of a photographer who has an insatiable fascination with a foreign land that keeps drawing her back.