The Block Muse

Kashmir through the Camera

What does it mean to own, display, and be responsible for the culture of others? Chicago-based photographer Larry Snider and “Collecting Paradise” curator Rob Linrothe addressed this question at “Photography and the State of Kashmir,” an April 1 discussion. Students, faculty, and community members came curious to the Block Museum, ready to examine what it means to capture culture through a camera lens.

Artist’s Talk at the Block Museum by Larry Snider: Photography and the State of Kashmir from Block Museum on Vimeo.

Snider’s work spans the globe. He has photographed regions across Asia, and he centered the night’s conversation on Ladakh, part of the Indian province of Jammu and Kashmir. Snider said that you only need to know one word to photograph in Ladakh: julay. It means hello, goodbye, thank you, and blessings to you. If your work is honest, julay opens creative potential, he said.

Be it at markets or in monasteries, Snider never had a problem approaching someone to take their photograph. That’s not to say his intent and impact went unchallenged, though.

“I remember this photograph,” Snider said, pointing to photo of a man in Leh, Ladakh’s largest town. When Snider asked the man to sit for a photo, tourists walked right in front of him. “It ruined the set up,” Snider said. “The guy had been relaxed, and now he was tense. I said, ‘Damn it, these tourists really get me [angry].’ And one of the guys walking by said, ‘What do you think you are?’”

To unpack the photographer-photographed, global-local relationship, Snider has taken to bringing a Polaroid along with his still camera. Now every time his camera flashes, he both takes and gives a picture. Consider Snider an artist who captures and releases.

Want to get inside the mind of more artists? The Block Museum will continue exploring our relationships with art through quarter-long programming. Find a full schedule of free public programs and Block Cinema screenings here.