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The People Of The Omo Valley
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Photography, Travel7 years ago

The People Of The Omo Valley

“I want to document that change. I want to document cultures which are standing on this edge of losing everything they own and are hurtling towards modernization.” Trupal Pandya

Born and brought up in Varodara, India, Trupal Pandya is a 27-year-old photographer living in Brooklyn, New York and studying photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology. As an amateur photographer, he began chronicling the everyday life of people living in India’s vast hinterland, before graduating on to his current passion: the study and documentation of tribes across South Asia and Africa that are on the verge of modernizing.
Beginning 2012, Trupal has been traveling to the Omo Vallery in southern Ethiopia, located in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, to document the ancient tribes like Mursi, Hamer, Benna, Arbore that call this region home.

The journey that covered “miles of nothingness” took him through the wilderness of Ethiopia, bringing him face to face with a tribal community that has been self-sustaining in their ways for thousands of years. Trupal had the opportunity to live with these tribes and observe the familial and social ties that foregrounds life in the Omo Valley.

When Trupal forayed on to the dirt roads of Omo Valley, he wasn’t expecting the journey to turn into a life affirming one. Not only did the natural landscape and people make inroads into his heart, it also inspired him to rethink his photographic approach to his subjects and devise a novel way to shoot them: using stark white backdrops with the tribesperson as the sole point of focus. Shorn of their natural settings comprising the trees, lakes, houses, and the cattle pens, Trupal chooses to focus on the person standing in front of him, in their everyday accoutrements. Encouraging the viewer to confront the subject directly, what emerges from this almost taxidermist portrayal of the tribes is the idea of the ‘Other’ as increasingly clichéd and anachronistic. Trupal continues to engage with the Omo Valley inhabitants by making several visits in a year.

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