How many species of plants are there in the universe? Scientists have predicted to be a number just shy of 400,000 and a large proportion of that number is endangered or are already extinct.
How many of us belong to Homo Sapiens, or at least call ourselves humans? The number is more than 7 billion and it is on the rise. The vegetation is dwindling fast on our planet, thanks to our insatiable desire of over consumption and exploiting our mother Earth.
Is this what we envisage? Have we become so blithe in our approach towards life that we have started taking nature for granted? The Last Leaf shapes our lost vision by presenting all that could be left if we continue to give in to our illusions of more want. It is a psychological journey of fallen, withered, trampled down, plucked leaves taken across different regions of the world across the background of man-made structures of gravel, concrete and the naturally occurring soil. It has been developed digitally using the approach of an early photography process which gives a tarnished and faded look to the leaves. These abstracts of leaves lying motionless on the ground with a somber calm makes us wary of our own uncertain future. This is an archival long-term work which is also to be presented as a zine and an installation.
This also has another deep-seated meaning for us. As a man, one is always intrigued by the forms, textures, and colors of leaves, so diverse they are that they remind us of our own diversity. The repetition in the narrative has been used to reflect this notion. What is magical is that they are one of the building elements of a plant, nourish it and help it grow as well. If we as humans can also build a positive ecosystem devoid of ego and differences, how wonderful would the world be. To let go of the hatred and embrace the diversity to help each other grow as a race. Is this too much to ask for? These are questions that we need to introspect for all the answers lie within us. Death of these leaves is synonymous to the death of the human body too. What do we want to be remembered as? Who do we want to be remembered as?
About Debmalya Ray Choudhuri
Debmalya Ray Choudhuri (b. 1992) is a writer, visual artist and documentary story teller from India currently based in New York. He sees the visual medium as a reflection of his soul and portrays the world according to his own interpretation. He has published his work in magazines and platforms in India like Better Photography India, Inspiro India, Asian Photography magazine, etc and also international publications on The Guardian, The BBC, The Telegraph UK, Nat Geo, Invisible Photographer Asia,MonoVisions, contemporary art platforms like Phroom magazine,Feature Shoot, Lensculture. He has displayed across the country and abroad like Blank Wall gallery,Athens, India Habitat Center, Focas Photo festival Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Rochester Fringe Festival,etc. He also received several awards in the course of his ongoing journey, notable ones being honorable mentions in Neutral Density Awards 2016, International Photographer of the Year 2016, International Photography Awards(IPA), Sony World Photo Awards 2016. He believes that true happiness comes with an honest intent. He, has tried to maintain that through his work, which is often shaped by the experiences that he has had: his images are often dark and mysterious and then at other times, soaked in reverie. He was awarded as emerging photographer from Calcutta by Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation, Mumbai and has also been part of national art residencies with the Piramal Foundation, Mumbai. He was a part of a contemporary art movement across India called The Narrative Arts movement (2017).He was also selected for the prestigious mentorship program of Invisible Photographer Asia and now wants to carry on and explore his vision further on his long-term projects apart from the commissioned work.