“Triggered by a desire to revisit the past and explore memories attached to his alma mater, Mayo College, Ajmer, where he spent nine formative years, Prakash then expanded his interest to include 18 other boarding schools that held a similar resonance for him. What Was Home is an intimate tale of reminiscences by a photographer who is not only reviving his own memories but is also projecting them on to familiar spaces of ‘fear, loneliness and surprise’.
Prakash’s negotiation of his past and revisiting the spaces of his childhood reflects on the changing nature of memory; that what was once a space marked by loneliness and homesickness is now revisited with empathy and detachment imbued with nostalgia. These photographs, when viewed through the lingering intimacy of Prakash’s photographic gaze, evoke memories—some real and some distorted by time—one reminisces about engraving names on school desks, graffiti on walls, the forbidden midnight feasts, hushed conversations about ghosts that inhabit school buildings and the frenzied rush to bathe in shared bathrooms. The familiarity of these spaces and experiences invite us within the walls of what once, indeed, was home.”
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: PHOTOINK; First edition (2011)
About The Photographer
Dileep Prakash (b. 1965) majored in history and has been photographing since the 1980s. A considerable part of his practice navigates memory, history and the passage of time – specifically India’s colonial past. Dileep’s fascination for steam locomotives began when he travelled between his boarding school and home and he photographed some of India’s last steam trains (1999-2003). For his project, The Anglo-Indians (2004-2006), he made portraits of a community in twilight. From 2007 to 2010, Dileep photographed boarding schools built by the British in colonial India. He began this project, titled What Was Home, at his alma mater Mayo College, Ajmer circa 1875. His recent work Sleeping in the Forest (2007-17) looks at moonlit dak bungalows and forests in the Himalayas.
Dileep is a visiting faculty and jury for the Master’s photography programme at the National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar and at the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communication, New Delhi.
Dileep Prakash is represented by Photoink and divides his time between his home in the Himalayas and New Delhi.