INDIA: MEN LONG GONE
Hindu scriptures say a person who commits suicide becomes part of the spirit world, wandering the earth until he/she would have normally died.
Over the past 20 years, nearly 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Many had borrowed money through government lending schemes or private lenders to plant more efficient crops, but could not pay off their debts. Because of the extremely fast transition India has undergone — from a rural to an industrial, urban economy with an open market — farmers have been confronted by immense social and economic problems.
This chapter explores the epidemic of farmer suicides taking as its focus the peculiar bond between man and land, a relationship unique to farmers given their reliance on the land for livelihood and the equal reliance of the land on farmers for survival. It's a relationship based on trust and nurturing and goes far beyond the customary attachment one has with his/her source of livelihood. This intimate bond is symbolically reflected in close up pictures from farmer's skin juxtaposed against details from the landscape photographed in a way that attempts to blur the line between man and land. In this environment the land and its inhabitants are one and the same: When one dies, so does the other.
At the center of this work is a series of portraits of the men who died and the women they left behind: widows, mothers and daughters.