David H. Wells is a photojournalist with over twenty five years’ experiences in photography. Since 1986 he has focused on in-depth photo-essays for publication and exhibition. Between 1986 and 1996 he produced 16 photo-essays for the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine. His photo-essays have also been published in Aramco World, the Chicago Tribune, Geo Magazine, Life Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, National Geographic Publications, Newsweek Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and the Washington Post Magazine, among other publications.
Wells has extensive work experience in India, working on assignment for Aramco World and the Ford Foundation, among others, during numerous trips to India since 1995. Wells spent five months in India in 1999-2000 on a Fulbright fellowship. During 2001-2003 he was working in India on an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship photographing the winners and losers in India’s globalization. In 2005-2006 he was on his second Fulbright fellowship, photographing the impact of globalization in rural South Asia.
This David’s first guest post here on Tiffinbox. Please make him feel welcome by commenting below. Thank you!
This work explores the fluctuating encounter between the eternal and the newly global in South Asia. Some images show physical manifestations of globalization’s forces for change interacting with local culture. Others use the play of light and shadow to highlight the eternal magic and beauty at the core of daily life in South Asia. The work is assembled to mimic the visual cacophony that is so much a part of life across the region. Some images are presented as singles, and other as diptychs or triptychs, collectively recreating South Asia’s omnipresent visual noise. Interspersed within the pages are blocks of text that allude to the dissonant sounds, ideas, names, faiths, places, cultures, and people that are encountered across the region. The complete photo-essay encourages a better understanding of the powerful, duality of forces that are vying to shape the future of South Asia.
Streets in South Asia offer patient observers an infinite number of dualities including; compassion and greed, hope and fear, wealth and poverty. Over the last eleven years, I have encountered these same dichotomies as both an insider and an outsider. While I am shaped by my Western upbringing, I am also married to an Indian woman. Her experiences and those of her extensive family network have helped me better understand India, and South Asia in general. Three grants (two Fulbright fellowships and an Alicia Patterson fellowship) as well as magazine assignments have expanded my appreciation of South Asia’s many cultures. Also, extensive reading of the popular press and academic publications, both Western and local, have informed my understanding of the area.
When working there, I have observed moments where the timeless in South Asia confronts the newness of globalization. I record these instances, creating images that highlight the changes sweeping across the region. The photographs explore the swirling human milieu that is unique to the local cultures, but is also being reshaped by globalization. The images show the physical manifestations of globalization’s forces for change interacting with local cultures in both urban and rural areas. Interspersed within these dichotomies, I also use the play of light and shadow to highlight the eternal magic and beauty at the core of daily life in South Asia.
The work I am producing explores these dualities, focusing on the continuously fluctuating encounter between the eternal and the newly global in South Asia. When I am exploring the newly global in the region, I emphasize the color that is common to so many global logos. With others, I compose my images in order to extract the color from the images, highlighting the simple play of dark and light.
The work is assembled to mimic the visual cacophony that is so much a part of life across the region. Some images are presented as singles, and other as diptychs or triptychs, collectively recreating South Asia’s omnipresent visual noise
Globalization is clearly trickling into the lives, villages, and the psyches of people across South Asia. Though the forces of globalization are external and frequently visual, the internal process of change is largely unseen. Far too many discussions of globalization focus on efforts to somehow “stop” the historically inevitable force that has been shaping and reshaping humanity for centuries. Rather than being fixated on opposing globalization, this photo-essay encourages a better understanding of the powerful duality of forces that are vying to shape the future of South Asia.