Almost Normal

Northeast India, the northeastern borderland of Southeast Asia represented always as a deviant, exotic place is situated on the periphery of a nation state, a frontier imagination. With more than 90% of its borders being international has been the seat of insurgency and counter insurgency that has now spanned over 50 years.

Living "in between", insurgency and security forces 'violence' and 'fear', are not sporadic incidents or experiences on the media. Fear is a daily encounter, be it with of the bomb blasts that occur without a gap of a week going by or that of daily checking by the police and military forces.

Democracy and normalcy assume slightly different meanings here. Daily commuting in and around the city is dotted with many police and army check points. As we approach to any one of these many check points the apprehension and discomfort inevitably sets in, as they ask for identification, as us to step out of the vehicle or open the car boot. Only as the car pulls away from the post does one breath easy again.

These daily encounters filled with fear and uncertainty I try to negotiate with and translate this into a process of photographing and documenting with a non-conspicuous mobile phone camera (therefore the low resolution). The gaze of the army men when they realize they are being photographed does make for intense moments of paranoia. The power structure embedded in the codes of conventional photography - the subject-camera relation is challenged. The distance and angle of view too reflect the terror stricken subjectivity of the camera.

In a zone of conflict life is close to normal – 'almost normal'. Daily life is punctuated with these encounters that are brief yet with a repetition over and over again assume a part of existence that cannot be ignored or taken for granted.