Another rich vein of discovery in Dark Mountain’s new collection, TERRA: Rooted is Juhi Saklani’s short essay on the heritage and fate of India’s trees. In response to displacement and distress at relocating deep into Delhi’s congestion after years living in its leafier areas, “I started photographing trees. It was the most meditative and ‘at home’ I felt in my unsettled life.” Her images accompany the text, revealing the deeply textured interplay of living tree and decaying stonework, of (as this small blog keeps returning to) nature-and-culture.
Juhi has been documenting and protecting trees against news of plans to fell thousands of them in the interests of ‘development’. “I shot trees that grew out of old buildings; roots that emerged out of platforms built to contain them; … peepal trees that smashed their way through shrines made to venerate them. They seemed to be assuring me that their life would not be denied.” Anyone who has photographed trees or just spent time watching them will, I think, testify to their particular life force, and our sense of their claim to outlive us — both individuals and species.
Juhi has also written online for Dark Mountain, on the choice between trees and housing.