documentary photography

Graham

I first met Graham one evening while he fed a family of street cats living in trees and abandoned furniture in our neighbourhood. He fed them at night to avoid attention and confrontation. When I approached him, he became aggressive, defending the cats and his right to feed them. He believes the cats have a right to exist just like humans do. In a public housing community where personal space is limited, most residents don’t share his opinion.

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They burn the dead

When a Dom is born, it is said that people weep, they weep for the newborn’s impending life of hardship on one of the bottom rungs of Hindu society.  As an Untouchable, they’re destined for an almost inescapable life of ‘unclean work’ in the community.

In a culture where death is viewed as contagious and touching the deceased as impure, it is the Dom’s job to burn the dead.  They weigh the wood and build the pyre.  On the banks of the holy Ganges, they burn over 70 bodies each day. Using scarves as masks, they walk with heat and smoke.  They bend and break the bones until only ash is left.  After the fire has burned, they sift through the remains for gold teeth and jewellery.

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