Lens man: Henri Cartier-Bresson award winner Patrick Faigenbaum captures life in Calcutta

Broken watermelons on show
New York's Aperture Gallery is currently exhibiting works by the 2013 Henri Cartier-Bresson award winner, photographer Patrick Faigenbaum, from his project Kolkata/Calcutta. Pictured: New Market (a British construction) seen from room 239 of the second floor of the Oberoi Grand Hotel, during the monsoon, central Kolkata, July 2014
(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

Over the course of his long life and prolific career, photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson provided a chronicle of the 20th century, capturing some of the most definitive images of an era.

Now, every two years, an award in his name supports a photographer to create a new body of work that will, in its own way, document the essence of a place and time. For the most recent cycle, awarded in 2013, the prize went to Paris-based photographer Patrick Faigenbaum (opens in new tab) to realise his project 'Kolkata/Calcutta (opens in new tab)', for which he documented the urban surroundings of artist Shreyasi Chatterjee (opens in new tab), who paints and uses collage and embroidery in her work. That visual record is now on view at New York’s Aperture Gallery and published as a book by Lars Müller.

The prize, supported by the Hermès Foundation in alliance with Aperture Foundation, makes space for the kind of documentary photography that Cartier-Bresson did so much to define.

Like Cartier-Bresson, Faigenbaum’s work seems to emerge from a finely tuned sense of place and time. 'Patrick’s work is immersive. He really enters the subject,' says Catherine Tsekenis, Director of the Hermes Foundation. Over the course of his two-year award cycle, Faigenbaum made six trips to India, documenting the city in visits that lasted two weeks to one month. He had wanted to work in the region ever since a visit back in 1995.

Instead of using the word 'shoot' to describe the action of photography, Faigenbaum treats the photograph as a slow register of a place rather than the quick action of clicking a button. 'I spend a lot of time thinking about the presence of a place,' he says, explaining that he typically sits in place thinking about the relationships between elements of a picture. 'If the setting is silent, the picture has to reflect that,' he says.

Once he finds the picture, he registers it with his lens. Then, as he puts it, 'I trust my camera.'

She is posing for the picture

Faigenbaum made six trips to India, documenting the city in visits that lasted two weeks to one month. He had wanted to work in the region ever since a visit back in 1995. Pictured: Mrs. Kalyani Ghosh, Banamali Sarkar Street, north Kolkata, October 2014

(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

Broken watermelons on show

The project largely centres around the urban surroundings of the artist Shreyasi Chatterjee, who paints and uses collage and embroidery in her work. Pictured: Display of watermelons, neighborhood of Rajabazar, north Kolkata, July 2014

(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

Calcutta city on the picture

'As a whole, the images will constitute both a portrait of this artist in her family and professional settings and a free description of her larger urban environment,' Faigenbaum writes. Pictured: City Highway in the neighbourhood of Gariahat, South Kolkata, October 2014

(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

Embroidery work in progress

Shreyasi Chatterjee at work embroidering, Lake Town, north Kolkata, March 2011

(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

People walking on the streets

Dover Lane, Ballygunge, South Kolkata, October 2014

(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

People on the train

In the Santiniketan Express, the train that connects the station in Howrah, Kolkata, with the city of Bolpur, May 2014

(Image credit: Aperture Gallery)

INFORMATION

 ’Kolkata/Calcutta (opens in new tab)’ is on view until 7 November at Aperture Gallery

Photography courtesy of artist and Aperture Gallery

ADDRESS

Aperture Gallery (opens in new tab)
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York

VIEW GOOGLE MAPS