Abhishek Khedekar’s photographs toe the line between fiction and reality

A keen archiver alongside his photography practice, the Delhi-based creative is captivated by the potential images have to craft new narratives and personal storylines.

Date
8 June 2022

When taking a photograph, Abhishek Khedekar, has one key goal – he doesn’t want to give everything away. “I tend to think of photographs as information”, the photographer begins, “A photograph is understood differently by everyone because its contents will trigger a different memory, and that’s what I try to build on.” It’s for this reason that Abhishek sees his photography as bordering “reality and fiction”. He offers a sense of “reality” with his photos; portraits of nameless people, zoomed in sections of a landscape, pieces of fruit lined together. But with the subtlety of his style, the loose narrative and the slight mystery woven throughout, he pushes his audience to fictionalise them – adding their own perspective, emotive responses and storyline.

Alongside his physical photography practice, Abhishek is a keen archiver. Seeing such photos as a visual “representation” of the past, Abhishek collects them and then curates them, creating his own narratives: “I think of it as a storybook, but without words – it’s an effort to convey something in more than a few ways, or as I interpret them”. Both Abhishek’s photographic practice and love of archiving are inspired by Subhas Kolehar, a photographer from Abhishek’s hometown. For a long time, Abhishek explains that Subhas was the only photographer in the local area. In the 60s, therefore, he ended up photographing most of the people in Abhishek’s town. Becoming enamoured with his work, and his reach – “every family in my town has an album with pictures taken by him in”– Abhishek once had the chance to meet him and explore his body of work. “Something about his persona and his position in the locale resonated to me as folklore,” Abhishek says, “and everything that surrounds him became so alluring.”

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Abhishek Khedekar: Batla house (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2021)

Originally, Abhishek had dreams of becoming a painter; always doodling and painting theatre props throughout his time at school, he went on to study fine arts at Bharati Vidyapeeth university in Pune. But, Abhishek admits, a lot of his college days were spent “quite unheedingly”. “I spent most of my time outside with friends riding bikes precariously around the city, stopping at places we found peaceful every now and then.” It was upon meeting a mutual friend that owned a photo studio that Abhishek experienced his first introduction to photography. Being instantly hooked, Abhishek began to take a camera with him everywhere he went. “I photographed everything that I was drawn to and it appealed to me – it felt much more real as a way of creating.” And then, after graduating from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Abhishek went on to study photography at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad for three years.

One of the things that really drew us to Abhishek’s work here at It’s Nice That is how brilliantly he crafts a sense of place. Entering a new space and being able to both accurately and sensitively conjure a sense of the place is by no means easily achieved, and Abhishek sees his success in the area as coming from his personal approach. “Most of the pictures I make evolved out of a very personal space, which makes me more compassionate and socially perspective towards the subject,” he explains. The photographer’s aptitude is also rooted in how much he revels in immersing himself in new places; he cites a recent project in Hampi as being indicative of this. “It was my first trip outside after a prolonged lockdown and I had to take pictures keeping spirituality in mind,” Abhishek explains, “it was difficult because I’m not very spiritual – at least in my practices.” But having always wanted to visit Hampi, and finding the “alien landscape” and “fresh breeze refreshing” the brief arose somewhat naturally. “Ironically, the whole experience ended up feeling incredibly spiritual, and I hold those pictures close,” the photographer concludes.

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Abhishek Khedekar: Tamasha (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2016)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Dapoli (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2018)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Dapoli (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2018)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Batla house (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2021)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Dapoli (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2018)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Batla house (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2021)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Batla house (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2021)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Dapoli (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2018)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Tamasha (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2016)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Tamasha (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2016)

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Abhishek Khedekar: Dapoli (Copyright © Abhishek Khedekar, 2018)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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