Picturing the 'you' and 'me':
Entering into dialogue with urban youth, media artist Chris Becher is set to create a photographic and textual series that moves away from the hardened postcolonial, stereotyped and romanticised images of India and its people.
© Chris Becher
Chris Becher (*1990, Germany) studied artistic photography from 2010 to 2016 at the Academy for Media Arts Cologne with Beate Gütschow and from 2013 to 2014 within a DAAD-abroad scholarship at the National University Bogotá where he alsoworked independently on his freelance long-term project «Lxs». Additionally he was a Young Fellow from 2015-2016 at the Academy for the Arts of the World Cologne. His diploma thesis «Boys» was awarded the renowned prize «gute aussichten - junge deutsche fotografie 2016/2017». In addition, he won the «Marta Hoepffner-Prize for photography» 2017 and was nominated for the Förderpreis des Landes NRW 2017 (advancement award of the federal state North Rhine-Westphalia). His works were presented in the Haus für Photographie in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, in the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf as well as in the Goethe-Institut Nicosia, Cyprus; published in different print media and form part of various public and private collections. Since his graduation he lives and works as a freelance photographer and artist in Cologne, Germany.
His works, which arise primarily from documentary issues, concentrate on the combination of text and the photographic image. Both elements are juxtaposed equally and independently and possess the same significance and form of presentation. Albeit the meaning and imagination between these two poles flow and move continuously; even shift to fiction. In this interplay, his works uncover indicators of socio-political and cultural such as economic structures, subject habits and judgements for negotiation.
During the process acute off- and online investigations merge in the practice of diverse documentary strategies and time-consuming collaboration with the portrayed persons. In doing so, a crucial part of his work takes place without the camera which in conclusion is also significant for his artistic position. The meticulous handling and usage of analogue medium and large format cameras is conducive to the intimate relationship between himself and his subjects. These circumstances of production and his role as an author are reflected and documented as they form part of the final artistic work.
Chris Becher sees the intensive and intercultural examination with socio-cultural, economic, political and institutional issues, and the encounter and networking with a cultural and artistic scene that differ from his origins, as essential for his artistic practice and personality. Especially with regard to the perception, conception and construction of the «own» and the «other», artists have the possibility and responsibility in today’s complex, globalised world to tackle those imaginations — that in the globalised world turn more and more into a social routine  — in a (self-) critical and reflected manner, to question them and see them more discriminatingly. In this context, he considers photographic and textual representations as central to this field.
In Bangalore, Chris Becher wants to enter into dialogue with locals and work on the problem of how it’s possible for an artist — who is not familiar with Indian culture — to do justice to the complex Indian status quo and create a photographic and textual series that does not reproduce and harden postcolonial, stereotyped and romanticised images of India and their people. What is the relationship between local people, longtime residents and newcomers? In doing so he wants to concentrate on the situation of the (younger) population of Bangalore aged under 35 — the future of India also in a global context — that grew up between the influence of their parental generation that is more conscious of tradition and today’s global, digital modern age. In the run-up to his departure to Bangalore he already wants to gather different concepts of people in Germany and himself about today’s India. The second step is to contemplate the situation of today’s India with residents in Bangalore. On the basis of the generated material he wants to juxtapose colour photographs and text of young Indian people which counteract gender-specific, colonial, western and Eurocentric imaginations of Indian identity to offer an alternative legibility of today’s and future India and Indian individuals.
 See: Arjun Appadurai: Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis 2003, pg. 5.
When we have India in mind there appear many different pictures in our imagination: for one person its garbage and chaos, for the other its the Taj Mahal and meditating Babas or the smell of the street kitchen and the taste of coconut. India is a giant, complex, for many from the «West» originating persons an underdeveloped country with which you have to have passion till it will be so far as — yes, as who actually, as the West?
The diplomat, politician and writer Shashi Tharoor wrote once, India on the contrary is a high developed country; a high developed country in the state of advanced decay. It is the imagination, that turns everything upside down and arranges everything new, that rolls everything up. An imagination that questions the latent arrogant and megalomaniac West and simultaneously holds up a mirror to those Indians who their selves don’t know anymore in which country they live in and who throw the garbage to their neighbours feet and declare it comfortably as «God-given».
All these stories have a partial truth, India is plenty of things, and is even more plenty of things; but not by any means the stigmatised and romanticised, limited image which we consume uncritically in the media of the Western world. You don’t have to be a historian to realise that the West has helped itself time and time again with pleasure to the fruits it needed at a certain moment of history: diamonds, exoticism or spirituality, the list is longer; whereupon it felt in love with its own imagination and wasn’t be ready and willing anymore to open the eyes for that what else you could find in India. The opinion that the West self-righteously forms itself about India — and the other way around that India forms itself about the West — is distorted. India, deeply conscious of tradition, is a country which at the same time speeds inexorably towards the future. In a future that becomes more and more global and that in its progress should be designed to intend to promote a dialogue and bridges these worlds.
With this mind and following this reflection I see the cooperation of the Goethe-Institut as an important connecting link to connect artist from both of these worlds to each other and put them into dialogue and beyond that create an added value for people who’s access to these worlds is more distant. My time in India was intense and enriching in which the intercultural examination of sociocultural, economic, political and institutional conditions and the encounter with a cultural and artistic scene that differs from my origins presented me with a challenge. At the same time it was a «growing» and again holding in high regard these encounters that on my path and as part of my personalty I consider as essential and aren’t written in any book to read up on somewhere. Every description of a subject is and stays being a reduction of it, is based on simplification and selection. Nonetheless I entertain the opinion that every honest description will enclose something to a whole and makes understanding and empathy (more) possible. And so I am satisfied to depart India with more questions and curiosity as I had before and looking forward to meet again in the future. And besides I hope that I also was able to pass on part of my experiences and values to the people who I met during my time here in India.