A Ritual is a religious or solemn ceremony which consists of a performance of actions following a predefined order. The etymology of Ritual comes from the Latin word Ritus, meaning ‘religious observance or ceremony, custom, usage.’
In a world where we strive to conform to socially constructed paradigms, how relevant are traditions and rituals for us? Nowadays, these events are not practiced and valued as in the past and their preservation will certainly be one of the challenges of the next generations.
Traditions and rituals are a consistent part of what determines the concept of culture, but how will it change over time? The photographs of Regina de Luca and Sameer Raichur focus on the importance of photography in preserving and investigating local cultures and identities. They look at the social relevance of marriage which embodies the structural values of each culture.
Photography portraits the instances of rituals, it enables to visualise traditions and customs that have been orally transmitted for a long time. These shots have the power to immortalise moments that could be forgotten or unknown.
Chariots of frolic
Sameer Raichur’s interest in documenting Indian socio-cultural practices emerges in his series Chariots of frolic. In the district of Tamil Nadu, the photographer captures wedding chariots created out of socialist era cars, portraits of families and individuals engaged in the wedding 'decoration' business. In India, the ritual of marriage is a display of social and economic standing, the prosperity is mostly represented by the sumptuous ornaments of the chariots. In smaller towns, these rituals involve the entire community and are a means of garnering goodwill for the two families. Despite the critique to marriage as a social statement, the photographer believes that this Indian ritual has not changed over time. The preservation of traditions in relation to the modern progress is embodied in the chariots. An adjusted Fiat used as a wedding vehicle is turned into a hybrid between a road car and a horse driven chariot. This is a perfect example of the union of modern design with cultural practices of the past.
REGINA DE LUCA
In Matrimonio Anacaprese, Regina de Luca’s meta-pictorial operation is featured by a social and artistic investigation. The short project is inspired by the painting Marriage rite in Capri by the French painter Édouard Alexandre Sain who lived in Capri during the 1800s. The mise en scene of the setting with poses, lights, and colours, that recall an ancient painting, aims at triggering a reflection on the concept of marriage in Italy and on women emancipation. The photographer believes that the approach to marriage has radically changed in the last century from being perceived as a mandatory step to becoming an optional choice. Meanwhile, in Italy, as in the majority of Western countries, the role of women has evolved along with culture. Through this series, photography informs about historical traditions and reflect upon how these have changed during the past decades.