Wonderful Things by Tim Walker
Even though my previous post referring to Walker’s Cloud 9 project, how his work and fashion photography style have been a strong influence within my work. I feel that there is this slight element of cultural appropriation, even though he brings authentic representation to south Asians of various skin tones, including those who are of darker skin and tend to be not represented enough in western media as well as even the Bollywood industry. Walker travelled to India as well as various places within south Asia to witness the celebrations, landscapes, rituals and traditions of cultures. Walker’s images has this sense of stage perfection as well as very westernised aesthetics and I feel that the only aspect of south Asian culture is the model themselves. This distinctly shows that Walker did not take advantage of the work he created and his research as he did not showcase the many other aspects of south Asian culture, that goes beyond styling that fits western society, especially compared to other photographers such as Nina Mangalanayagam and Oliver Föllmi who have captured many aspects of history, religion and celebrations as well as south Asian wear.
Despite Walker’s images being beautiful and taking the opportunity to learn about India before creating this, to create something that brings attention to south Asian models, I question if this project would have so publicised if he was south Asian himself. Walker was just drawn to the beauty, aesthetic, and styling of south Asian culture, as are many others of the westernised community; aspects that south Asians themselves have felt uncomfortable embrace through traditional wear, especially when living in a westernised society. Furthermore, I question what this project, which has been heavily shared and disseminated to advertise Walker’s Wonderful Things exhibition, really does for representation of dark skinned south Asians, as the model’s face and even her hands are completely covered in gold glitter, thus covering her brown skin, as if it something not considered desirable and the only aspects that makes it clear that this model is of south Asian heritage.
However overall Walker’s Wonderful Things exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, was a stunning and ethereal experience, where I feel that I was able to see, understand and learn about Tim Walker and all his many other incredible projects. Furthermore to be able to see south Asians presented in gallery and museum spaces, that are predominantly white dominated is an incredible feeling; but the museum that this work was presented in, Victoria and Albert Museum, were built and have financially grown off the backs of colonisation of the sub-Indian continent.