Shopcade HQ recently spoke to Mukul Bhatia, who is an internationally published and exhibited visual artist. He uses photography, fashion and film to narrate stories about human diversity, and focuses on sub-sections that don’t necessarily confine to stereotypical society. He is known to be the visual creative behind MATTER Prints, Singapore, and has recently returned from 24-country tour across the world for his project Nomadic Origins
, a visual anthropology of Modern Nomads, in which he lived with diverse strangers and documented their life. He is also the founder of fashion and art label, Rati Collective.
Shopcade (S): what first drew you to photography?
Mukul (M): My ex-girlfriend. She loved facing the camera and I loved the idea of documenting our relation and thus, I discovered the visual language of the camera, and it’s a process/discovery/love affair with the camera that is constantly growing.
S: What do you think is more important for making a good picture? Content or composition?
M: The intention.
S: Black & white or colour? Your personal favourite.
M: Very hard question. I’d have to chose Black & White. Its funny how my work is associated with rich colors, while it’s the essays shot on monochrome film that I’ve spent most of my life and soul to, especially with my long-term project about the war in Kashmir and the transgender sex-workers in Pune.
S: Who are some of your favourite photographers and how did they influence you?
M: Antoine D’ Agata and Ren Hang. Both of them are rebellious underdogs who do their thing no matter what. I like that kind of non-conformism in artists, the idea of not giving in to mediocrity of the industry and having your way anyway; until you succeed.
S: You like to be in front of the camera as much as you like to be behind. How did that come to you?
M: After working in the war zone as a journalist, I saw way too much for a 22 year old boy. I suffered from clinical depression, followed by a break up from a 6 year relation and everything was simply pear-shaped. As someone who has always been the giver, I almost forgot myself and couldn’t see any beauty left in me. It would’ve been hypocritical to keep photographing beautiful things while I was unable to find it in myself, so I started taking self-portraits, and discovered how being photographed could be supremely therapeutic. It gave me a sense of self discovery, and I wanted to make sure I keep documenting myself as much as the world around me.
S: How did you turn into the psychedelic sheep that you are today?
M: Haha, I love that expression. Well, I consider myself a collector of rare experiences of some sorts. I view my life cinematically, with all its twists, and I live it passionately and make sure it’s bright and shiny. Dreamy childhood, passionate love affairs, travelling 24 countries in an year for my book Nomadic Origins, to living with migrants and war orphans, I like seeing and living it all, on both sides of the fence. I want to have a zillion grand, colourful stories to tell my grandchildren, and am simply collecting these diverse, crazy experiences. I guess the psychedelic-ness is simply the byproduct of my life.
S: You’ve been all over the globe capturing people. Where do you think you've found the best-dressed people on the streets?
M: Shibuya, Tokyo. It was almost hectic to see that space with so many theatrically diverse Asians who wore their personalities fearlessly, unapologetically and with all the panache. Simply taking a walk there was more inspiring than the Paris Fashion Week.
S: What is it about your style that makes and lets you blend in wherever you go?
M: Sharing stories, compassion, and openness. I think your body language and life experience speaks more than your words or clothes.
S: You are always on the run. what are the five things one can always find in your bag?
M: My camera, phone, a book, my glasses, and my iPod.
S: Men’s fashion trends that you are currently in love with.
M: Androgyny. Why should girls have all the fun?!
S: Brand/ designer in India that you think is breaking the stereotypes when it comes to men's fashion.
M: I liked the initial works of Nor Black Nor White and the trench coats from Anuj Bhutani. Huemn is currently making great waves in the scene and I love where its going right now.
S: Brand/ designer that you would like to do a campaign shoot for and why?
M: I’d LOVE to shoot Yohji Yamamoto’s designs in Mongolian landscapes. I love how each of his designs are literal artworks, and don’t confine to ephemeral fashion trends. He is probably the best thing to happen to fashion, and I truly adore his aesthetical integrity and philosophy.
This interview has left us in awe, what about you?
Photo Credit: Mukul Bhatia
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