“Does that which we see become reality? When we are deprived of sight, do we create a different reality?”
I was very curious about blindness from a very early age. When I was about 10 years old, I was diagnosed with colour blindness. It was and it still is difficult for me to identify certain colours. In spite of this I felt as capable as any other child my age. 13 years later , during the course of an assignment for a regional tabloid, I learned that India is home to the world’s largest number of blind people and that number increases by nearly 30,000 every year. As we know in a class-divided society like ours, people with disabilities are ostracised and marginalised. They become victims of their situation, in which they had no choice. Especially in rural areas, people generally look down on the blind, denying them everyday necessities and treating them as outcasts, without regard for their intrinsic value as human beings or their individuality.
With the tabloid, I was often assigned to make pictures for stories which revolved around blindness or blind schools. While shooting for these stories I realised how complex blindness is and I was drawn towards the issues associated with it. I got an opportunity to further the scope of the work in August 2015 and I revisited the blind school that first piqued my interest in this project, Lighthouse for the Blind, and further explored the issues surrounding the visually impaired in a quest to understand blindness.
In addition to the social aspect of the project, “The Sixth Sense” contains a metaphysical aspect. Through this work, I collaborate with the blind students to construct and interpret their dreams in order to question the understanding of the relationship between reality and sight. For people with eyesight, reality is often understood purely through the physical act of seeing. For people without eyesight, they understand blindness through absence. This work is an attempt to challenge the role of the visual realm, the core denominator of photography, in how we receive information and know reality. Thus it will ask the questions, “Does that which we see become reality? When we are deprived of sight, do we create a different reality?”