Charan Singh, born in India and based in London, introduces us to a world of Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others. Kothis (effeminate, underprivileged, homosexual men), Hijras (eunuchs), and Giriyas (partners of kothis and hijras) are indigenous terms used by queer working class and transgendered men, in their own dialect, to define their particular sexual identities.
While India’s photographic history is disproportionately rich with documentation of the most privileged classes and castes, the subjects on which Singh chose to focus his lens were never a part of this formal visual history of India. Outside of their representation as victims of the HIV and AIDS crises, Singh’s subjects had never been given the opportunity to express themselves as they chose to be portrayed. The bold, confident personas and poses they adopt and the clothing they choose to represent themselves are usually inspired by Bollywood, the most readily available cinema and television to members of the Indian lower-class.
Charan Singh lives and works from New Delhi and London. He is currently a PhD candidate in Photography at the Royal College of Art, London. His work has been exhibited at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2014), The Photographers Gallery, London (2015), GFEST: Gaywise Festival, London (2015) and FotoFest, Houston (2015).