KT: You call yourself a ‘Levitation advocate’ on Instagram. What do you mean by that and how did you get into photography?

SD: I’m referring to the idea of lightness, a levity in life. Freedom from gravity, heaviness both mentally and physically. I also love the sensation of being upside down. I’m a yoga instructor, as well as a life long student. I’ve been painting, drawing and making images all my life. My sister had given me a small canon digital camera in 2006 for Christmas and I started capturing images at that time and used this camera to take my first images in Varanasi for this book.

KT: There is a very special and unique presence of abstract art and Hindu philosophy in your photography. What is your fascination with them?

SD: I love the expression of abstract art. It is a way of interpreting a moment in time, using not just an image but also feeling, colour and shape – there is a rawness and imperfection to it which I find appealing. The Hindu philosophy comes from the yogic literature, which has seeped into western literature. It fascinates me since there is so much to unwrap and understand both intellectually and viscerally.

KT: Recently you published a beautiful book – ‘Ganga Miniatures’. How did you initiate this project? What do you like about photography in book-format?

SD: I just started capturing images on my trips to Varanasi, and the idea about the photographs organically evolved, like a story in my head, based on books I was reading and art I was exposed to. I like the photo-book format because it allows the viewer to get an extended glimpse of a body of work in a concise format, almost like you went to the gallery, but without moving from your home.

KT: In your description about your ‘Ganga Miniatures’ book, you quoted – “I imagine these photo-etchings are a result of accidentally slipping from my hand into the lap of the Ganges, and the results, are a destruction and a simultaneous re-birth, which can perhaps be viewed as even more intriguing than the original.” What is your reference to destruction and simultaneous re-birth in your project?

SD: It’s a direct reference to the Ganges, herself. Hindus believe that by dipping into the waters of the Ganges, they can experience a metamorphosis, a transformation, a rebirth – that the waters of the Ganges have curative powers and give Moksha or liberation from the circle of birth and death. Furthermore, because people believe that the waters are a living goddess and posses magical powers, all manner of objects, as well as cremated bodies and industrial pollution are placed in her waters and so I imagined that the photographs fell from my hands and got transfigured with all this different energy, that has been placed in her waters… the sacred and profane. The book is also questioning how the goddess is worshipped in spiritual culture, and how far removed this is from how woman have been regarded due to societal conditioning.

KT: What do you wish to achieve with your abstract photography in the end?

SD: I’d like the viewer to go away with a different view of the Ganges waters and miniature art/ photography. Maybe treating the natural world – the waters of the world with more reverence and compassion as we are interconnected. We are of the natural world, and of the earth and will return to the earth, as it states in the Upanishads. The earth: ‘Gaia – the embodiment of the sacred feminine’.

Photos©Smita Daryanani