born in London (UK), 1971
lives in United Kingdom
After leaving the course in 1994, he was awarded The Independent Newspaper Photographer Traineeship. Kalpesh worked for The Independent as a staff photographer for one year before freelancing for the national newspapers in the UK for 6 years covering news and features. In 2000 , he gave up working for newspapers and made the decision to work on long term projects and magazine and commercial assignments. In the same year he was awarded a 1st Arts prize in the World Press Photo.
In 2003, he embarked on a long term project documenting the lives of Widows in India, receiving The W.Eugene Smith Fellowship and Churchill Fellowship. He is currently is working on a series with Syrian Refugees and his first book “ Lost in the Wilderness” , a body of photographs on the Lakota Sioux and Pine Ridge Reservation was be published in 2015. Kalpesh was a commissioned Artist for the Brighton Photo Biennale co authoring the project “ A Return to Elsewhere”. Kalpesh continues to work for the leading international magazines on documentary and portraiture assignments alongside his personal practice.
Lost in the Wilderness
text by Alessia Venditti
Nel 1970, in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown narra della conquista del territorio americano da parte dei coloni bianchi. Scrive in modo lucido, distaccato, schivando l’edificazione letteraria di indolenti ripari a favore dei nativi. Il risultato è una testimonianza storica delle vicende che hanno segnato lo sterminio di intere popolazioni. Nel 2006 Kalpesh Lathigra riceve una copia del libro, intraprendendo, un anno dopo, un viaggio verso Pine Ridge, riserva indiana del Sud Dakota.
L’esperienza catapulta l’autore di Lost in the Wilderness in una comunità di nativi americani tra i quali regna povertà, disoccupazione, alcolismo, violenza e un alto tasso di suicidi.
“In un primo momento ho fotografato molto poco, ho voluto incontrare la gente indigena, vedere e sentire la terra”. Lathigra mette alla prova la propria abilità di connessione con la grande determinazione di questi uomini di preservare le tradizioni, di mantenere viva la lingua Lakota.
Il risultato sono ritratti, luoghi ed espressioni, permeati da grande senso di dignità, da una fierezza che racconta di un esperimento riuscito: “mi hanno trattato con gentilezza […] le mie paure sono state presto sepolte dalla facilità con cui la gente mi ha accettato”.
Sepolte, come i Lakota Sioux da parte dell’esercito degli Stati Uniti d’America nel 1890, nella valle del torrente Wounded Knee.
Palazzo dei Celestini
In 1970, Dee Brown illustrates the conquest of the American territory made by white colonisers in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He writes in a clear and detached way, avoiding the building of metaphorical forts in favour of the Native Americans. As a result, the book is a historical record of the events that led to the extermination of entire populations. In 2006, Kalpesh Lathigra received a copy of that book and, after a year, went to Pine Ridge, an Indian reservation in South Dakota.
Thanks to this experience, the author of Lost in the Wilderness was propelled in to a Native American community in which poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, violence and a high suicide rate dominate. “At first, I did not take lots of photos because I really wanted to meet native people, see and sense the earth.” Lathigra tests his ability to connect with these men’s great determination in preserving traditions and keeping alive the Lakota language. The final shots are portraits, places and expressions steeped in a deep sense of dignity and pride which tells about a successful experiment. “I was treated fairly […] I could overcome all my fears since they welcomed me in such an easy way”. My fears were buried, like Lakota Sioux were buried by the USA army in 1890 near Wounded Knee Creek.