The Gallery at the Whitney is pleased to announce the opening of Humanitas: Images of India. In these photographs, Fredric Roberts tells a story of beauty and grace, work and family, spirituality and devotion by focusing on ordinary lives and daily occurrences and ceremonies. In his portraits, the subject often looks directly at him and then to us, revealing the rapport Roberts establishes with his subjects, as well as their own sense of elegance and self-possession.
The photographs engage the viewer and challenge what we think we know. Through the interactions between the photographer and his subjects, we get a sense of the intercultural engagement Roberts emphasizes as he explores complex stories and relationships with his lens. Essentially, his photographs issue from, and continue as, open exchanges with people from diverse cultural backgrounds—his subjects as well as his audience.
From the beginning, this project was a conscious endeavor. “You have to spend time with people and genuinely care about them, in order to honestly photograph them,” Roberts explains. “I found the camera to be a conduit that enhances my insight.” Unlike many photographers working in India, who seek to interpret an “other” culture, Roberts found that he was more interested in a quest for beauty, which he sees as inherent in the photographic process.
Roberts’s photographs strive to mediate between idealization and documentation.They document and honor his subjects while revealing the beauty, the humanitas, of everyday life.Through his photographs, Roberts asks us to imagine life beyond the photograph, sharing his experience through images of family, work, and devotion.