The Spaces of Others: A Photo Essay

In this photo essay, Sumit Sute puts together his collection of a traditional Korku wedding. Korkus are a tribe inhabiting parts of Madhya Pradesh. Taken in a small village on the banks of river Tapti, the pictures together try to portray the syntax associated with the access of public spaces. The village like any other village in the country has traditional and the modern forces competing as well as coexisting. This is the third in the ‘Travel Series’.

Did I shoot this particular album with a certain political agenda in mind? I don’t know. But out of 400 colorful pictures covering most of the modest ceremonies of a low-key Korku wedding for three continuous days, I did edit this album out with strong feelings and sense of curiosity. The way public spaces are accessed and the definite presence of syntax associated with public spaces here, after shooting this tribal wedding in Madhya Pradesh, helped me understand the curtains I have been having all the time while I accessed public spaces back in my part of the world and yet refused to overtly acknowledge the presence of similar codes with gender and generation tags. While I admit that there were these explicit differences between the urban world I represented in this small village on the banks of Tapti to that of its own, most of my modern trends also happen to be in the proximity of these traditional behavioral norms, including gender regulations and codes for generations. Yet, such norms have universally faced resistance by the marginalized in order to reclaim their spaces. Here, women did it with negotiation, children with curiosity and the elderly with their energy.

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A small village on the banks of Tapti river, in Betul District, Madhya Pradesh, where recently I went to shoot a Korku wedding.

 

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A traditional Korku dance where the men occupy the nucleus of the choreo arrangement along with principle music instruments and the first orbit is of the men with flutes and decorative headgear, often the focal attraction of such gatherings. Women take the second orbit and are equipped with ghungroo family percussive musical instrument in their hands.

 

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A Korku girl observes the dance.

 

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A Korku boy provides the drinking water.

 

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A Korku boy passionately documenting the traditions of his last generations on a mobile phone.

 

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Another view of the area

 

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Korku women dancing with a ghungroo- family percussive musical instrument in their hands.

 

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The men with flutes and decorative headgear, often the focal attraction of such gatherings.

 

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Young men often prefer western musical instrument such as drums to celebrate and dance to. One such gathering.

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Hyper-energetic celebrations of young men often stays an exclusive act leaving others as mere audience.

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With an expression of energy and courage, few elderly and children make their small place in such celebrations.

 

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When women eventually refuse to just sit quite and watch the show, lead by the elderly and ignore the compulsion of energetic dance expressions on the drums, slowly start huddling separately next to the boys and perform the traditional dance moves on the drums.

 

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A boy walks through the frame

 

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Women audience in a separate shed.

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