ETERNAL is the initial segment of an extensive project dedicated to the themes of mortality and post-mortem practices. The showcased photographs were captured during the artist's prolonged sojourn in northern India.

The portraits portray men known as Chaudhary in Varanasi – the Untouchables, who hail from the lowest caste in India and have historically been tasked with the cremation of deceased bodies in this sacred city. This arduous responsibility was designated to them as one among the many marginalized roles within Hindu society. Although theoretically, the constitution of the Republic of India since 1950 abolished caste-based dependencies, aligning with the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, who campaigned against all forms of social discrimination. In Gandhi’s vision, the Untouchables, referred to as „Children of God,” were granted numerous rights (including access to education and public positions) and were formally integrated into the social framework. Nevertheless, to this day in Varanasi, the Untouchables continue to bear the burden of societal stigma. Chaudhary individuals tend the symbolic Eternal Fire at the hearth of Manikarnik Ghat, where hundreds of bodies are cremated ceaselessly day and night.

Sons labor alongside fathers, cousins with uncles, the young and the old alike participate in the cremation process. The cremations conducted here by the Untouchables ensure the continuity of the cycle of reincarnation, known as samsara, and the achievement of nirvana. The waters of the Ganges River, flowing at the base of the Ghat, are inseparably intertwined with these rituals, playing a fundamental role in the life and death of Indian society as a whole and holding significant significance in the lives of the individuals captured in the photographs. Inescapable.

2016 – 2017

curator: Maja Kaszkur

An infinite array of temples bears witness to the profound devotion to Hindu divinity within the city of Varanasi. Sculptures nestled in its alleys, characterized by their egg-shaped forms resting upon flat pedestals, are known as Lingams – embodiments that pay homage to the sacred union of Lord Shiva and his consort, Shakti.

Manikarnika Ghat

Sample of water from the Ganges River taken at the foot of Manikarnik Ghat hearth.Time-lapse video realized in the process of microscopic photography.

Courtesy of the Instytut Medycyny Doświadczalnej i Kliniczej im. M. Mossakowski PAN

The entrance to a district predominantly occupied by the Untouchable caste is distinguished by the black roots of a large tree, adorned with red powder. Its boundaries are delineated on one side by the banks of the Ganges, known as Meer Ghat, while the entry from the city’s direction is situated adjacent to the temple of the monkey deity – Hanuman.

Devprayag a city nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas. In this remarkable location, two rivers converge – the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi – their union giving rise to the Ganges, the revered Mother River of India. Over 900 kilometers downstream, at its banks, hundreds of bodies, carefully arranged by the Chaudharys, embark on their final journey through the sacred city of Varanasi, where they are cremated