Set against the landscape of Chattisgarh, Central India, Godna is a portrait of the elderly women of the Gond tribes known for their art of tattooing or Godna, as it’s called in Hindi. An ancient art form of tattooing the body in patterns that have remained unchanged for centuries. The word Godna itself is derived from ‘gehna’ or jewellery. The tattoos usually appeared around body parts where jewellery was worn in the belief that this jewellery will be adorned till the end of life and far beyond. It was, after all, all what was left after you died.
Unlike the photographs of a conventional social document the pictures emerge through a different visual language that is born out of a life of austerity combined with the daily struggle to adapt to a fast changing India. Amid these tremendous pressures that go hand in hand with modernisation comes an unavoidable aesthetic and photographic language of beauty and resilience. A language that emerges through the directness of the portraiture and surfaces in the details of its subjects. In muted colours reflecting the austere life these women led and are leading in some of the most unlikely and extraordinary surroundings. Unearthing a sense of being and dignity.