Photography by Karthik Subramanian

In India, from 7 April, 814 million electors will be called, in nine stages in the course of 5 weeks, to vote for their representatives in the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of Parliament. These will be weeks of endless queuing at the polling stations and for the first time the contest will be played out not only in the squares but also on television. All political observers agree that the country is at a turning point: with an economy that has slowed down growth, a high inflation rate and widespread mistrust of the political class, the results of this election, in a country that has always been identified with tolerance, could be marked by strong change. Fabrica will describe these 5 weeks from an unusual angle: 10 young photographers will observe the country in which they grew up, a country in which the 18-19 age group accounts for 23 million voters, 3 per cent of the electoral body.

Kartik Subramanian is 28 years old, lives in Tamil Nadu, in Southeast India, and like many young adults does not feel greatly involved in the election. “A marked characteristic of election campaigns is the fleeting burst of loudness that confronts people everywhere. Hurried announcements are abruptly made on loud speakers and then the daily life resumes. I have chosen to shoot primarily in the night so that I could use the sea of lights to portray the momentary loudness of the elections.” He photographed the eve of the election as if it were a festival. “The streets before the election become a place of festivities with the politicians on show. One goes off, another one comes on. The people in the street are the audience, cheering now this one, now that. Along the roads, in open public spaces in the countryside, they set up improvised theatres and the people flock to see how good the leaders are at political speaking, to see them in flesh and blood.” They are events that last hours. The people, who have come after work even from nearby towns and villages, wait patiently just to catch a glimpse of the political leader, and all this will last just for a few minutes. The event transforms and transfigures, changes completely spaces for purposes that they were never perhaps even imagined for before. A residential district suddenly livens up and becomes a stage where people, the electors, crowd round just to get a glimpse of their favourite leader, the person they recognize themselves in, the person they would like to have in government. A blaze of lights, with neon-lit blow-ups of the politician of the moment, which last for a few minutes. Then, all home. A human river of white shirts slowly flowing away.

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