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  • Photo du rédacteurLaurent Goldstein

WONDER GO! España #2

Dernière mise à jour : 29 avr. 2020

WONDER GO! España #2

Diciembre-Enero/December-January 2019/2020

Published on Dec 23, 2019

WONDER GO! España published twenty pictures that I took in Varanasi (Benares) along my words in this issue.

This is a link in order to watch it on line:

Banaras, Benares, Varanasi, Kashi, Avimukta...

The City of Ligth...By Laurent Goldstein

Varanasi (Benarés In Spanish) is on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and was as at the height of its prosperity in the eleventh century B.C.

According to Hindu legend, Varanasi is over 5,000 years old and is considered the oldest living city in the world, although there is only evidence of having been inhabited for 3,000 years.

There is no doubt that it is the spiritual capital of India and it attracts hundreds of pilgrims who come to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges and engage in funerary rituals.

The city with 2,000 temples is the holy place per excellence for Hindus and Jains and played an important role in the development of Buddhism, as Buddha gave his first sermon near Sarnath in 528 B.C.

It is also said that Jesus spent six years there and that he was influenced by his gospels.

In addition, several Muslim Saints are buried in different districts and Guru Nanak visited the city and laid here the groundwork for the the founding of Sikhism.

Beyond their cultural aspects or beliefs, each visitor can easily find here a connection to their own roots.

Archaeology, mythology, geography, art and history have made Varanasi, for several thousand years, a great center of Indian culture and an important focus of Hindu devotion, through its pilgrims, mysticism and poetry which have contributed to its reputation as a centre of cultural importance, religious education, artistic and musical centre.

It was not accidental that many Indian philosophers, poets, writers such as Tulsidas, Kabir or Ravidas live or have lived.

it was in Benares that the famous «gharana»  was developed, that variant of classical Hindu music and also where Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was established, the university with the largest student residences in all Asia.

Varanasi also grew an important industrial centre, which earnd a good reputation thanks to the trade of its for its sarees, silk fabrics, carpets, handicrafts, perfumes or sculptures, which became popular throughout the world thanks to the Silk Route. 

The almost indescribable architecture reminds the cities reproduced in European primitive paintings that can be seen in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Not forgetting those picturesque characters that emerge one from the labyrinth of alleys that lead irretrievably to the Ganges.

The light is extraordinary either at dawn, when the sun turns the sacred waters into a nectar of gold and silver, or at dusk, when the sunset gives a special shade between dreams and reality.

The city is the land of colours where a wide spectrum of shades and hues becomes a paradise for any photographer.

Here time seems to have stopped and probably the same atmosphere that should have existed 2 000 years ago still remains, so it is interesting to work in black and white and walk in the tracks of the first photographers of the 19th century such as Samuel Bourne, Madho Prasad or Brajo Gopal Bromochary ; but it is also a great value to pay a tribute to the lense of Raghu Rai, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Jean-Louis Nou who made some of their greatest pictures in this incredible city.

Along the Ganges relationships with people are different from those in the rest of the world.

Therefore, I try to capture the soul of people and show the inner beauty of those who cross my path.

Benares became my favourite subject and here I see, in a kind of biblical ensemble, people who are most often wrapped in a state of grace.

However, when everything is saiand done, what makes this fascinating place so different from any other city in the world is that as you walk deeper closer to the Ganges, eventually you end up looking at yourself.

Laurent Goldstein is a French photographer, art director, filmaker and designer who lives and work in Varanasi (Benaras – India).

After travelling around the world, he established himself here and created Red Halo, a brand of household linen in which he has involved people living in difficulty.

Always with a camera, Laurent Goldstein has learnt the secrets of photography in the United States.

In his artistic focus memory, poetry and nostalgia have a leading role.

Memory is the key that leads from one image to another and, in particular, the involuntary memory, since Benaras is for him like the "the madeleine episode" of « In Search of Lost Time » by Marcel Proust.

In the City of Light, he goes back in time thanks to sensoral memory exercices unleashed by smells, images, sounds or perceptions.

He always finds finds something that could be rekated to the begining of History and that is also deeply engraved in our souls, that is precisely what he wants to capture to share with the viewer.

And, as Proust said, "Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were", that’s why Laurent looks at this place with an aesthetic that is mainly influenced by the work of the first photographers of the 19th century, and by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Raghu Rai, and also by the Master of paintings, from the primitive Europeans to the Impressionists who knew how to balance the importance of light and frame.

However, his work is spontaneous and carries the message that whatever people identy and culutre may be, « we are all brother and sisters ».

Currently Laurent publishes and exhibits his photographs in art galleries all over the world in order to sustain the education of a group of children in Benaras and support Human Rights organisation.

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