Widows of Vrindavan, 2009
This series of photographs is a product of work made in an effort to raise awareness for a project initiated to help Indian widows by an Indian non-profit organization, the Guild of Service, and its progenitor, Dr. Mohini Giri. Dr. Giri has created an ashram for widows in Vrindavan, a holy city believed to be the birthplace of Krishna and a city known to attract widows who have been shunned by society and their families, stripped of their identities and their dignities, and forced onto the streets. Widows traditionally cut off their hair and wear white in a symbolic gesture, essentially waiting to pass on to the next life. The creation of these images is also an evolving exploration into the role of visual art and aesthetics in documentary, in the context of philanthropy, and is intended to reflect the dignity and pride that can be restored and preserved, and the power to affect change.
These photographs represent in part a journey taken from Vancouver, BC to Inuvik, the northernmost town in Eastern Canada accessible without the use of ice roads. In a 1983 VW air-cooled Vanagon named Lola, with compadres Julian and Nacho, we traversed approximately 5,000 km in 2 1/2 months of camping, and we only broke down 17 times.
© ErikBokerPhotography 2018