The UMFA is thrilled to announce the opening of a new exhibition, Moksha: Photography by Fazal Sheik.
This exhibition consists of portraits and stories of a community of widows in the Hindu pilgrimage site of Vrindavan. A marginalized part of Hindu society, widows are left with few options. In Vrindavan, a city holy to the Hindu god Krishna, the women chant and pray every day in the hopes of obtaining moksha, a release from the constant cycle of death and rebirth. The exhibition, comprising forty photographs by Sheikh, is on loan from the Princeton Museum of Art.
Walking through the galleries with curator Luke Kelly, it was hard not to pause and linger in front of every photograph. “It’s been a totally different experience from looking at them online,” said Kelly, “You really have to be here to see it with your own eyes. It’s a very personal experience, and I recommend coming in and really spending some time.”
Kelly explained that Fazal Sheik is really interested in finding the people behind what we typically only ever hear about or try to fathom in the form of statistics. Visitors to this exhibition can count on an intimate and touching experience.
Fazal Sheik stayed for three years in Vrindivan, earning the trust of the locals, and getting to know the community. What he found, Kelly clarifies, was that though it may be tempting to read these women as tragic victims of circumstance, each possessed a new-found and powerful strength. “For a lot of these widows, this is paradise,” says Kelly.