“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order”.
The main thoroughfare in Delhi now called Chandi Chowk was once regarded as one of the world’s most dazzling streets. It was built by Mughal’s daughter, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal. His aim was to connect his Red Fort palace to the heart of the 17th Century Walled City of Shahjahanabad, commonly known as Old Delhi.
This city’s artery is also one of the oldest markets in India. Originally meaning ‘moonlight square’, coined with the sole intention of highlighting the reflection of the moonlight in the canal’s waters placed in the same location, Chandni Chowk is no longer what it used to be. Instead of this beautiful vision, three centuries later one looks up to glimpse dangerous low-hanging spaghetti webs of tangled power cables, a symbol of explosive population growth and lack of adequate infrastructure.
Delhi is characterised by densely populated streets and colonial grandeur. It outlines a stunning multi-layered historicity and multiple urbanism that have engaged with modernity and globalization in a rapidly urbanizing country. Twisted Lines is a body of work I developed during my trip to India in 2015. It reminded me of the idea of urban ‘dystopia’ as it appears in German expressionist epic science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang in 1927, Metropolis, which depicts a futuristic scenario associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. This idea of a dystopia-like condition of India has to do with the notion of ‘megacity’ – a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of ten million people. There are 35 megacities in the world. Delhi, with a population of 16.3 million, is the 9th largest of these sprawling cities.
India is dependent on an aging coal-power monopoly from production, a corrupt and dubiously efficient system that is often leaving the city without electricity for days. This applies only to those who actually have access to any electricity, since much of the country still does not. During my time in Delhi, I was overwhelmed by the city’s sights and sounds while at the same time I felt a growing an unease about Delhi’s current situation which is reflected in so many megacities. Problems such as air pollution caused by traffic congestion, fuel adulteration and greenhouse gas emissions are quite serious, and an example of this would be outlined by recent studies that highlighted the fact that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans. Growing up in Mexico City, the images in Twisted Lines are familiar to me and reminded me for how many people life is just a survival contest.
The project Twisted Lines aims to register the profound connection between human identity and place. As a public space, a town must have parameters since that is what specifically defines the idea of a city (its boundaries, a concept that interests me in all of its senses) or else that place would just expand endlessly and become chaos. Perhaps these twisted cables are an interesting symbol of this disorder. By creating and commenting on the scene’s tension, this series of photographs calls attention to unusual visual arrangements from a Western perspective and captures fleeting events that suggest a more anomalous world.