Last February on a walk through the Ridge Forest in Delhi a friend told me about the Prince and Princess of Oudh. They lived in a ruin in the same forest and their life story was by for the most extraordinary I have ever come across. I decided to pay them a visit and ended up meeting Prince Cyrus. His sister had past away a few months earlier. We developed an interesting friendship; I would visit him now and then and we would call each other very often.
Prince Cyrus was a difficult man to be friends with. His requests became harder and harder to answer, up to the point where he asked me to buy him a gun for his protection. I backed off a little bit and didn’t visit him for a while. Last week I discovered he had passed away a month ago. A natural death, but all alone in the remains of his royal past.
When he was still alive, Cyrus had asked me to photograph his home and had given me some photographs from himself and his family. Now that he had expired (as the Indians call it) I photographed what remained of his now ransacked home. I found more photographs and documents that I have saved and scanned.
This assignment brings together my images and the found material. I have tried to tell about the Royal Family of Oudh, their extraordinary lives and strange dynamics that made them the way they were and led to their tragic ends.
I realize that there is much more that can be done with the material. This book lifts the veil of their mysterious lives and aims to give an insight in the feelings and hardships of the prince and princesses.
The Tragic Demise of the Rulers of Oudh
Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills
This focus of the end result of the assignment is not so much my photography, but the way my own images work together with existing materials to tell a story. I believe I managed to do that effectively, there is a distinct difference in the images that I took when Cyrus was still alive and afterwards, the added texts and old photographs. I think I managed well to let it all support the text of Princess Sakhina’s notes and lift the veil of their strange lives and feelings. I struggled with the design of the book, but it really helped to use a template. I would like to learn more about principles of design and especially take the time to find my own taste and style.
I think I have shown my observational and visual awareness skills through my photographs, but also through the way I have selected the images and documents and brought them together.
Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualization of thoughts, communication of ideas
I am content with the outcome, although I realize that there is much more that could be done to tell the story and that this booklet doesn’t do any justice to what has happened to the Royal Family of Oudh. I had first chosen an other subject for this assignment and had found myself completely stuck at a certain point. I noticed that when I changed to this subject I found myself knowing much better what to do and how to approach the materials. Looking at the final product, I believe I have met the criteria, realizing that next assignment I might look for help sooner if I get stuck again.
Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
There is still a lot to be learnt in this area. I find that I still lack the technical skills to take the leap in becoming more creative and let the conceptual juices flow. But this being the last assignment of the course, I do see a difference in outcome compared to the first one. I have grown, but feel that there are so many areas in which I can develop more.
However, in the preparation of this assignment I have experimented a lot, struggled through finding my voice and concept amidst all the materials I had gathered (also in my first attempt). I feel I need to be a bit more methodical and hope that this will get stronger with practice and sheer persistence.
Context – reflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs, critical reviews and essays)
Without having done the exercises in the reader and the reading and looking at other artists’ work, I don’t think I would have ever gotten where I am today. I feel very inspired and pushed to go beyond my comfort zone. This assignment is the result of thinking about the function of spaces and objects, the value we add to them and how photography adds on to that. I feel that especially in the older photos a lot can be learnt from the gazes of the members of the family, it also shows that captions enforce images and make new connections and connotations with the subject matter.
I have struggled with the ethic of using this material that is not mine. I feel I let down Cyrus as a friend and not sure if I am the one to keep it and use it for my own studies. Am I treating the material with the respect Cyrus wished for? These are questions to think about and reflect on while using the material in other projects. I’ll go back to the ruins one more time to see if there are more documents that are worth saving.