The book’s space interviews: MAA


02 Dec The book’s space interviews: MAA

Book: MAA
Photographs: Indra Kumar Jha (aka Nate)
Book design: Federico Carpani
Editor: Self-Published
Date of publishing: September 2015
N° of copies: 500
Dimensions: 21×28 cm
Binding: Orange thread binding, folded pages, soft cover
Paper: Semi-glossy Coated paper 150 gr


Which are the 5 indispensable pictures for this book?

Photographer: Each of the 5 essential pictures I chose represent one of the fundamental elements of the book: 1) A portrait of the dead, the emblem of the whole project; 2) Nate’s selfie, as a portrait of a living person (apologies for going binary here, but in this case it’s just required); 3) A scene of the beloved surrounding the dead body, my favourite, one that reminds of a Compianto: a typical figurative genre from Italian Reinassance; 4) A birthday, a lively moment on the crematory as well as an important rite of passage in Hindu culture; 5) Goddess Kali from the cover: the symbol that synthetizes the whole spirit of the book.

What is the framed structure of this book?

BD: The structure of the book is made by an external sequence, picturing the headshots of the dead and the living, and by an internal sequence, found in the folded pages, composed of scenes from everyday life in Varanasi. The two sequences, while different in content and composition, are strictly connected and complemetary. When composing the book, it was mandatory to insert the internal sequence, adding content without disturbing the external flow of images.

How did you choose your book designer?

P: What a question! He’s the best in town!

What was your approach to get into the photographic project?

BD: In order to enter and understand the protoproject I delved, for months, into Nate’s photo-complex, memorizing most of his work, around 8000 photos. By this painstaking method I was able to partially translate the archive into a book. Among the primary goals, I wished to show the full range of subjects and situations, always trying to avoid the look of reportage.

How did you develop the work on the book?

P / BD: Since we decided to create a book, Nate has been downloading (for years) all his files at Kamal, the Digital Color Lab of Varanasi. I periodically retrieved them and inserted them, one by one, in my ever-updating InDesign file. I mean, in my forty InDesign files.


Which narrative slant did you choose for this book and why?

BD: Varanasi is a place where a multitude of personal stories get interlaced everyday. Because of this, I decided to structure the book not with a strong plot, but with many micro-narrations of variable size from a maximum of four to a minimum of one single picture, in order to reproduce the relentless motion of India’s holiest city. Nevertheless, Nate’s view of these events constitutes the thread of a latent narration that keeps the whole book together.

What’s the difference between the book and the photographic project slant?

P: The main project, other than the book, is an archive that can be browsed in every way and none. The specificity of the book is given by an ordered reading, way easier to peruse. In other words, the main difference between the archive and the book is the degree-of-meaning, that is to say, the hierarchy of content within the book.


How did you choose the materials and the kind of printing?

BD: To print MAA I chose an enhanced offset technique provided with vivider pigments rather than the regular offset and semi-glossy coated paper. The reason is very simple: to reproduce the shine of indian fabrics that saturate the photos.

How the materials’ choices are connected to the photographic project?

P: The outcome is fully satisfactory because it’s very similar to Nate’s original photographs. These are always digitally printed at Kamal on a glossy photo-paper.

You can also find all the interview archive on 3/3 blog: