Two years ago, in June, about 50 people came together in Mumbai. Curiosity and anticipation hung heavy in the air as they were offered a chance to be a part of an unusual project called “Stupid Eye”. After a four-hour-long session, photographer Vipul Amar and psychologist Harsheen K Arora — the duo behind the project — had found their protagonists who would do their bits for the psychology-meets-photography undertaking. Consent forms were signed and a few months later, in October 2012, the process was repeated in Delhi.
Cut to present. Photographs depicting the “true selves” of the protagonists are on display at Triveni Kala Sangam. Says Arora, “We invited people to tell us how they would like to be shot. The ideas were then streamlined into three themes — ‘real self’, ‘ideal self’ and ‘self-actualisation’. Frames were designed based on these concepts, and after numerous individual sessions with the participants, the process of therapeutic imagery followed. Arora explains the three concepts through the piece titled Da Sien-Being in the World. The protagonist for this canvas, a hairdresser by profession, pictured herself as a ball of light, after disconnecting from the mundane issues that troubled her. “She was going through a rough phase and wanted to run away from everything. That’s why she wanted to disconnect. But what she actually wanted was to be able to detach from the world, make peace with her inner self, and embark on a more spiritual journey,” says 27-year-old Arora.
While Arora is a post-graduate in clinical psychology from the University of Wales, UK, Amar is a 38-year-old “cinematic” photographer and industrialist. They believe it is only one’s “stupid eye” that can see one’s true self in a society where masks abound. Stupid in this case comes from its Latin origins, stupere, which “means to be amazed or stunned with what your inner eye can make you see”. In the piece titled Revelations, for instance, a young woman looks into the mirror in a backless gown. Her painfully scarred back (it’s make-up that you see) is a reference to the backstabbing she’s been through in the past. It’s symbolic of the loss of self-confidence, due to the barbs thrown by those around her. But the image reflected in the mirror, seen through her ‘stupid eyes’, is her true self. Similarly, in Make Me Fly, another participant is dressed like he’s going scuba diving. He’s strapped to helium balloons and floatation tubes, and the picture represents him attempting to overcome the fears that hold him back.
“Sometimes, even if we are aware, we don’t know the truth about ourselves. We lie to ourselves all the time,” says Arora. “All we want to do through this project,” says Amar, “is to ask people to be true, at least
“Stupid Eye” is on at Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, till May 7, 11 am to 7 pm. Contact 23719470. Visit http://www.stupideye.in for more