Little is known about the art form outside of Mewar -- but rural communities are familiar with the tradition and its various practices. Academic history has largely ignored the Gauri Dance, but details of its evolution and practices have been preserved in the cultural consciousness of its audience.
The series has also been showcased in parts by a number of galleries across India. The collection will be on view in its entirety at Gurugram's Museo Camera Centre for the Photographic Arts from September 17 to October 15.
Bhavna Kakar, the Founder-Director of the presenting gallery Latitude 28 says: "Waswo and I have been discussing the possibility of exhibiting the series of 'Gauri Dancers' for the audience in NCR for more than two years. This will be the biggest contemporary Indian art presentation till date. Artist-photographer Waswo X Waswo collaborates with Rajesh Soni, a third generation hand-colourist based in Udaipur."
Shot mostly at Waswo's studio in the village of Varda, these photographs are captured digitally, though the staging itself hearkens back to the days of painted backdrops, arranged sets and natural light. Selected images are printed digitally on matte, fibre-based papers, with archival inks. The Gavri (Gauri, Gavari) Dancers are a phenomenon unique to the confluence of southern Rajasthan and its borders with Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. This predominantly tribal belt has a glorious tradition of oral literature and performing arts, by way of dance and drama.
Eschewing the word theatrics leaves us with no other real term to explain the Gavri performance and can be viewed as a liminal interlude between classical proscenium style portrayal and risque folk ballads that have a dedicated following among communities who shun the mainstream and revel in their wondrous world of Gods, world-views and situations.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at email@example.com)