This photo essay by Sanna Irshad Mattoo is the second in a series of photo essays on Gender, Militarization and Armed Conflict in commemoration of Kashmiri Women's Resistance Day.
“I believe objects have memories, they are witnesses. When I photograph people I try to capture emotions. The same is true for things, there lies a belonging-ness." - Sanna Irshad Mattoo
In Still/Moving, what at first glance seems to be an ordinary day in a barber’s shop, appears in reflection to be a scene filled with menace - a bare neck exposed to a blade, a watching witness. Women’s bodies and entwined hands, hold violently chopped locks of hair; an almost headless man walks by trunks of wood on a windy day; on Gawkadal bridge a row of empty military helmets are watched over, by faces on a poster of men killed here over two decades ago; a child-like man seems unaware of the camouflaged soldiers behind him; anonymous feet are entangled in concertina wire.
Sanna Irshad Mattoo’s photographs tell the truth, “I think of myself as a documentary photographer”, she says. But they tell it slant—“these are the fragments of reality. I photograph the tension between belonging and alienation; between objects and non-objects.” The image’s surprise lies in it’s refracted optics—mirrors and windows, chipped surfaces and broken objects are uncanny witnesses to the fragility of life and normalcy in Kashmir.