Statement: THE BUTCHERS OF CALCUTTA

 

 

On my second day visiting Calcutta, I decided to explore the Sir Stuart Hogg Bazaar, (often called New Market), a 130 year old, chaotic, crowded interior mall with hundreds of little shops. It's been said you can buy anything from a needle to an elephant (on order) in its stalls.

 

Overwhelmed by the sheer stimulation and insistent touts, I headed out through one of the back doors and ended up in an enormous meat market, the size and intensity of the old Fulton's Fish Market in New York City's South Street Seaport. It even looked like the old Fulton's, with an open hall punctuated by wrought iron columns and high, vaulted ceilings. As it was near the end of the day only a few stalls were occupied. There, whole, gutted carcasses of goat were hung up being swiftly dismantled. The butchers let me know that the height of activity occurs before dawn. I let them know I'd like to return.

 

Every remaining early morning of my stay, for about twelve days, I came back to observe and document. These photographs are the result.

 

I have no knowledge of how the poor sanitation evident in these images impacts the general health of the population but it must be substantial. This was not my concern. Rather, I was fascinated by these butchers' devotion to their jobs and traditions, their lifestyle and skills. As important, I reveled in the visual "beauty," the textures and colors, and the strange agelessness of the architecture.

 

 

 

-Tim Feresten

June 2008

 

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHS