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MUKUL BATHIA: THROUGH THE LENS OF A NOMADIC PHOTOGRAPHER

@foundintranslations

November, 28th 2020

Travelling photographer Mukul Bathia leads a wander-ous and inspirational life with a unique perception of the world. Camera in hand, his nomadic lifestyle has yielded him the power to share with the world its diverse communities.

 

Words By Giulia Dattrino

Although Mukul Bathia has a studio in New Delhi, he spends ten months of the year away from his basecamp, travelling around the globe. His nomadic lifestyle is one of this artist’s unique characteristics. As the youngest of his brothers, growing up in a safe, comfortable environment, Bathia always yearned to leave the ordinary life behind and see the world with his own eyes. Combined with his passion for learning about different cultures, he embarked on his wandering way of life.

When asked to define home, Bathia says that it is a feeling, not a place. The feeling of being present, of living in the moment. New Delhi does not instill such a feeling in him, as many of us may have with the country we were born in. The days he spends in his studio are accompanied by a longing to get back out into the world; not to escape his past but to discover different kinds of places, to seek an awakened state that grounds him in the present.

Bathia’s first project was in 2012, where he travelled for seven months after completing his course in journalism. With a fellow photographer by his side, he travelled around India to capture its radically different and colourful culture. For the first time, Bathia saw a different part of the world beyond the images in a travel magazine, exploring and revealing the differences between what the media portrays to us and reality. Bathia always aims to portray these cultures as they really are, and not how we want them to be.

Photography is Bathia’s main career path, his passion for communicating through visual means stemming from childhood. With an intrinsically creative mind, he always saw words as a very limiting way to transduce one’s feelings and experience, and believed communication to go far beyond our spoken and written language. He began experimenting with different communication mediums such as sound and film, ultimately choosing to study photography at college. Over time, the meaning of photography changed for Bathia, evolving and shaping itself to be expressed in different ways. Although he finds it the most fascinating of mediums, he admits to some of its limitations. At times, Bathia felt restricted when trying to encapsulate all dimensions of a story, wanting to portray more than his camera would allow. As a result, he now experiments with sound to expand his ability to tell stories genuinely and accurately.

mukulbhatia.com

Today, Bathia’s work centres around sustainability, particularly social sustainability, sharing the stories and dreams of gifted artisans from around the globe. Aside from photography, his creative soul also explores the world of fashion. His love for design, however, arose in a rather unexpected way. He says that in his earlier days, fashion was never an option for him as he always saw it as an evil and “glamorised” industry. It was not until he encountered the growing world of sustainable fashion, from both environmental and social perspectives, that his opinion began to change. Bathia emphasizes the importance of telling stories compliantly and directly from the people behind the scenes in the fashion industry.

Yearning for more creative freedom, Bathia now owns his own visual production company, There are three main branches in his company. The first is where he connects artisans across India, building a network between major companies and artisans working in different areas, predominantly with organic cotton and natural dying. This is a way of showing people where the products they buy really come from and who made them, encouraging a more conscious way of consuming. The second branch is lookbooks; diverging from the stereotypical fashion model, Bathia works with models that are representative of society’s cultural and ethnic diversity. In his third branch, Bathia connects local artisans with hotel companies to support the artisans by purchasing and showcasing their art. Additionally, this provides guests with an authentic experience by bringing them closer to the local craftsmanship.

mukulbhatia.com

mukulbhatia.com

One of Bathia’s greatest inspirations in his life and work is the wabi-sabi japanese philosophy. This view centred around the appreciation of impermanence, imperfection and incompletion. Bathia incorporates this way of thinking and being by seizing the day and not trying to attain the unattainable notion of perfection. He maintains imperfection works in his favour, as it allows him to portray people in a very raw form, highlighting their authenticity. As he discovers more of society’s diverse cultures, Bathia’s perspective on life continues to evolve. Transmitted through his work, he gifts us a beautifully personal and humanized perception of the world.