The Ground Beneath Their Feet

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A CLIFF TOWERING OVER MUDDY WATERS, bearing a large crack, is photographed a couple of times and the images are arranged in a composite grid. The water seems to be placid in the first few frames. At first look, this series in Zishaan A Latif’s paintings appeared unnecessarily repetitive. As my eye moved from left to right, throughout the near-equal pics in the first row, I observed myself wondering the photographer’s purpose. As I made my way forward in the sequence, this time from right to left, the pictures step by step commenced to expose the incident that was captured—the edge of the precipice started to bend, the crack began to widen, and the water commenced to froth. The cliff became collapsing. Moving down the grid, the disfiguration became an increasing number of glaring, attaining a crescendo midway, as a massive bite of land fell into the water. By the time I reached the ultimate body, having moved in alternating guidelines in every row, the change becomes glaring: a big part of the cliff had disappeared. The river carried signs of the disintegration, and I realized that Latif, and now I, had been witness to the landmass coming aside.

Latif’s first visit to Majuli, a river island in Assam, in 2015, was on a mission for Asian Paints that involved documenting shades on the island to assist broaden a new palette. During his days there, he felt that a “physical, social and cultural shift, which had been taking place for a long time, changed into palpable within the air.” But it turned into simplest on his next trip, years later, and on six subsequent visits, that he changed into able to join this to the island’s topography, which changed into being hastily altered because of erosion. “The ghats retain to shift overnight, and on every subsequent experience I made following April 2017, I noticed a clear sporting away on the rims of the island,” he told me. “I even have visible the ravenous Brahmaputra gobble away components in a frenzy.”