Bachpan is an online exhibition of black-and-white photographs by artist Vicky Roy, whose lens features lower-income-household children amidst the act of play.
Part of the proceeds from this exhibition serve as a contribution to Salaam Baalak Trust, an NGO which supports street and working children in the inner cities of New Delhi, with whom the artist shares a personal relationship. In particular Roy’s subject matter, imbued with the arresting tranquility of a moment of pleasure found outdoors, powerfully resonated with us amidst the lockdown due to COVID-19.
The exhibition is part of our digital endeavour – VAG FRESH – a series of online exhibitions hosted on our website, through which we support our younger artists and direct a percentage of proceeds by way of contribution to charities and NGOs who are working towards rehabilitating communities that are suffering due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Bachpan is a collection of candid photographs which examine the psychology and principles of childhood games as performed specifically by underprivileged children living in major Indian cities, who have limited access to toys and equipment, and are instructed or expected to share their findings and belongings with other children in the community. The greatest resource being the company of other children, Roy highlights how each of these photographs feature groups of children and not single portraits, representing the largeness of communities and the logistics of play. An ongoing series, the featured locales so far include Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal. His travels presently interrupted by the nationwide lockdown, Roy plans to capture the subtle variations in childhood play considering every Indian state as a setting, thus broadening the breadth of his focus for the first time, unlike his earlier work that has centered only on a particular landscape, city or relief feature.
Roy’s youthful protagonists display boldness and confidence, climbing trees to test their limits, bathing in ponds for simple pleasures, and inventing activities using humble found objects and their imaginations. For Roy, the idyll of childhood is preserved by a culture of curiosity rather than access to resources. In capturing the crux of innocence framing childhood experiences, Roy’s photographs demonstrate an expressionist quality that render them emotionally pliant and narratively relatable, regardless of background. The success of adulthood and the diversity of geography, economy and perspective are less consequential to the nostalgia of youth, which stirs up an equitable and palpable carefreeness shared by many.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Originally from West Bengal, Vicky Roy ran away from his home and started working as a rag-picker at the New Delhi Railway Station, before he was rehabilitated by NGO Salaam Baalak Trust, based in New Delhi. Roy went on to study photography at Triveni Kala Sangam and then apprenticed under Indian family photographer Anay Mann.
In 2007, he held his first solo exhibition titled Street Dream at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, supported by the British High Commission. In 2008, he was selected by the US-based Maybach Foundation to photo-document the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. As part of the program, he undertook a course in documentary photography at the International Center for Photography, New York. His first monograph, Home Street Home, published by the Nazar Foundation, New Delhi, was released at the second edition of the Delhi Photo Festival in September 2013. His solo show, This Scarred Land: New Mountainscapes was exhibited at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2017. He also participated in the Houston FotoFest Biennnial and Kochi–Muziris Biennale in 2018. Roy was awarded the MIT Media Fellowship in 2014 and listed in Forbes Asia ‘30 under 30’ in 2016.
The artist lives and works in New Delhi.