“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine. Fabulous!”Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
by Ken Hermann
On the streets of Kolkata, time stands still. It’s a city untouched by the heavy hand of globalisation. Tradition thrives on every street corner. Nowhere is this more evident than the bustle and chaos of Malik Ghat Flower Market. Malik Ghat lies in the shadow of the Howrah Bridge, on the banks of the Hoogly River, a tributary of the sacred Ganges. It’s one of the largest wholesale flower market on the planet. Two thousand sellers gather daily to peddle their blooms. The streets are lined with bowls and knots of flowers. Every colour, species and fragrance fused together, overwhelming the senses. The sellers take pride in protecting and maintaining every stem. They wander through the market, carefully avoiding collision while draped in hundreds of flowers. Their silhouettes mutated into a shape shifting mass of foliage. Bringing a soft sensuality to these hardworking, stoic men.Flower Men activates the mind and imagination. The work is a precarious balance struck by opposing forces. It speaks to economics, social status, faith and tradition,
as well as depicting new expressions of beauty and masculinity. It’s both natural and surreal. The subjects are in harmony with a place, a time and a community while quietly reminding us of our own discord.Ken Hermann first came to India over fifteen years ago. He felt an instant kinship with the country and its mystery, culture and unmistakable photographic potential. The country holds great significance for him, as it was there he made the decision to become a photographer. Over the years he has made a name for himself exploring the relationship between people and their environment, the fragile intersection of tradition and modernity. His photography seamlessly weaves cultural and political content, through his unique blend of cinematic portraiture. He is not interested in sensational stories or perpetuating stereotypes. People and their energy and passion for life excite him. The significance of Flower Men goes beyond its otherworldly charm. It presents us with photographs that encapsulate our desire for discovery. The more connected we become, the more we seek out the traditional and authentic. Hermann has transformed an irreverent observation into something miraculous. Creating universal images that transcend the barriers of language, culture and geography, while making us more conscious of our past as well as our present. Flower Men is an exquisite tribute to tradition and a poignant future relic.