This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we go to India with Sebastian Sardi, a documentary photographer from Stockholm, Sweden
BLACK DIAMOND is Sebastian's long-term photography work in which he follows the life of coal mine workers and documents the effects of coal mining on its communities.
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Around Jharia the landscape is apocalyptic. There are huge man-made craters everywhere that make up the visible landscape, the ground is burning, and a vast area is oozing with toxic gases, fire and smoke. Amongst all of this, there are people digging in the soil with their bare hands. Coal is mined everywhere in Jharkhand, India, and large parts of it is sorted by hand. The locals call it; ”Black Diamond”.
Energy produced by the burning of coal is the single biggest contributor to the man-generated carbon dioxide emissions. Coal is a major part in the issue of global warming. Many people have been forced away from these areas when companies and authorities recognized the richness that hides in the ground. Underground fires force people to relocate. The mining companies claim they are unable to put out the fires, while the locals blame the companies for letting the fires burn so the coal can be reached and excavated from underneath their villages.
There is a fragile balance between nature and mankind. A sense of discomfort is felt in the slow but seemingly unavoidable struggle towards the collapse of nature. The human inability to break patterns is painstakingly visible in these photographs, as we knowingly keep on extracting the ground beneath our own feet. Black Diamond is a close (self-)portrait of the people who work with extracting coal from the ground, as well as an exploration of our dualistic human nature and how oneself relates to the outside world while being a part of it.
Sebastian Sardi, a few words about you, how did you start photography?
I got my first camera, a Kodak Cameo for Christmas when I was about 11 years old. That got me interested in taking pictures. I later started experimenting with a Ricoh SLR camera.
I have a strong urge to open up the world and connect with it somehow, to find out and understand what is going on around me and to look for answers. Photography is my method for achieving this.
You seem particularly attracted in depicting the human nature. How does it resonate in your work and the portraits you create?
I always found peoples stories and lives and experiences interesting, and the camera also gives me a reason to explore these things. I have to feel something when I take the picture, a connection, even if only for a moment. When I then see the picture afterward, I need to reminisce that specific sensation. And if I can convey that on to anyone else who looks at that picture I would call it a successful photo.
Are you inspired by the work of other photographers or directors, artists?
I do get inspiration from music; punk, hardcore, metal, drone, doom, indie, etc. I do like movies and series and documentaries.
About your photography gears, what are your favorite tools?
I have used plenty of different cameras, Old ones, new ones, used ones, bad ones, good ones, analog, digital, rangefinders, SLR, DSLR, medium format etc. Typically I use 50mm or 35mm or equivalent lenses. The best tool I use currently is probably Capture One.
Do you have projects for the future like workshops, personal series?
We just finished a Kickstarter campaign and right now I am working on the book “Black Diamond” with these images together with Kehrer Verlag in Germany. Hopefully, the book will be ready next month.
The book can be preordered on my website: www.sebastiansardi.com
To see more from Sebastian:
All photographs copyright Sebastian Sardi and used with his permission.
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