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£3,140
pledged of £25,000pledged of £25,000 goal
32
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, December 19 2013 11:59 PM UTC +00:00
£3,140
pledged of £25,000pledged of £25,000 goal
32
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, December 19 2013 11:59 PM UTC +00:00

About

Pilgrim Mamta Dubey & Infant Child - winner of 2nd Prize, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, on view at the National Portrait Gallery, London until February 9th 2014
Pilgrim Mamta Dubey & Infant Child - winner of 2nd Prize, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, on view at the National Portrait Gallery, London until February 9th 2014

I’m Giles Price, a British Photographer, and I’d like to tell you about my project ‘21st Century Kumbh’ – a photographic documentary of the Maha Kumbh Mela – the largest gathering of human beings on Earth, which took place in early 2013. 

I plan to publish the photographs as a beautiful, limited-edition art book and I hope that once you’ve heard a bit about the work, you’ll be keen to support its publication. At first glance the amount we're trying to raise may seem high, but the book will be a very high-quality, 120 page A3 book, which will showcase the photographs in the best way possible. The images were shot on a medium format camera, which is able to take extraordinarily sharp images. The A3 format of the book will enable viewers to see important details that would be missed were it printed as a smaller scale.

Rewards for contributions to the campaign range from prints of the Kumbh image which recently won a Taylor Wessing award at the National Portrait Gallery (top image) to copies of the book- and one-on-one workshops, to a helicopter ride above London with a specialist aerial master-class with the myself. (UK shipping is free, all international shipping is charged on a case by case basis. Amounts in the rewards section are approximate.) 

I was first made aware of the Kumbh Mela, whilst in India scattering my mother’s ashes in Varanassi, late 2012. I had heard of the event, but whilst there I learned more about this extraordinary Hindu pilgrimage, to the Sangam, the confluence of the Holy Ganges, Jamuna and (mythical) Saraswati rivers.

The pilgrimage is an annual event, but every 12 years a Maha - or great - Kumbh Mela takes place. As I investigated further, I discovered that the 2013 Mela would be a Maha Kumbh, with hundreds of millions of pilgrims expected to travel thousands of kilometers from all over India and across the globe to perform traditional, ceremonial bathing rites in the holy waters. 

I knew then that I needed to be there to capture this awe-inspiring gathering. 

The event is over 4000 years old, so has been documented through the ages, but dig around and you’ll find it hard to uncover imagery beyond clichéd photographs of Chillum-smoking naked Sadhus, bathing in the Ganges. These images simply don’t do justice to the vastness, complexity and diversity of those who attend – or the event as a whole. I believe my photographic essay offers a new and unique perspective on this significant historic, cultural happening. 

When you first arrive on site, the sheer scale of the Kumbh Mela can be utterly overwhelming, but the ingenious design of the Kumbh Nagar - the remarkable settlement district that springs up around the festival helps you acclimatise fast. 

A 58sq km ‘pop-up’ tented-city, built on the dried river-bed of the Ganges, this huge, temporary construction is a supreme achievement.

Because of its location, the entire site is built in just two months once the Ganges has subsided and dismantled within a month of the festival’s end - leaving no trace of its existence - just in time for the river to again swell and reclaim her territory. For the 55 days of the Kumbh Mela, however, it is a fully functioning eco-system, capable of housing, feeding and caring for the hundreds of millions that descend upon it, in search of physical and spiritual nourishment. 

On the festival’s main bathing day alone it welcomed around 30 million people, making it the single largest gathering of humans in recorded history and, for a while, the most populous city on Earth. As well as the incredible number of people who come, it’s their determination to make extremely long, arduous journeys – driven by their belief that this is the location of one of the most important events in the Hindu creation myths, which is so inspiring. For the pilgrims, the Sangam represents a place where good triumphed over evil - where they will be renewed and cleansed of their sins. 

I was also astonished by the energy and willingness of all those who build and manage the Kumbh site – and was drawn to learn more about the assorted personalities who make up this vibrant, multifarious community. 

For the project, I’ve photographed not only the Indian and foreign pilgrims or visitors, and holy men, but also the less-documented and celebrated: the administrators, engineers, health-workers, firemen, policemen, army, street sweepers and traders – all of whom enable the Mela's temples, Akharas, encampments, hospitals, emergency services, post offices, transport hubs and markets to, not only operate, but run with an efficacy that is breathtaking. 

My aim is to give an insight into the delicate equilibrium of tradition, technology and commerce - and the relationship between religious and civil organisations - which exists within the Kumbh. 

In the process of doing this, I believe I’ve also created a snapshot of India itself - as it embraces modernity and makes its mark on the 21st century. 

I will be publishing a limited edition of 1000 high-quality art books of the project and would love your help to make this happen. 

All help and support is very gratefully achieved - thanks very much in advance.

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Video of millions of pilgrims awaiting the dawn procession of holy men, which precedes the public bathing in the holy waters of the Sangam.

NB: Please see reward print image selection below ( choice of 1 x Portrait or 1 x Landscape) 

 NB: Please see reward 10 postcard pack images below (5 x Portrait + 5 x Landscape) 

Rewards for contributions to the campaign range from prints of the Taylor Wessing award-winning image to copies of the book and one-on-one workshops, to a helicopter ride above London with a specialist aerial master-class with the photographer. UK shipping is free, all international shipping is charged on a case by case basis. Amounts in the rewards section are approximate. 

Risks and challenges

Publishing is an industry struggling but good quality books continue to be treasured. We are confident that with your help we will be able to create a very special high-end publication, and have worked hard to make sure that it is the best it can be. We have one of the best book art directors on board to design the layout. We are in conversation with a specialist distributor to make sure that once the book is published, it gets to the people who will most enjoy it - and we will be running a dedicated press campaign to make sure it gets the best exposure it can.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 6

    The pleasure of giving for the sake of giving and knowing you’ve helped to support this project!

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    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 25

    A3 Poster of Prize winning photograph 'Kumbh Pilgrim Mamta Dubey & Infant Child' (suitable for framing)

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    Pledge £35 or more About US$ 45

    Set of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.

    A3 Poster of Prize winning photograph 'Kumbh Pilgrim Mamta Dubey & Infant Child' (suitable for framing), signed by the photographer

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    Pledge £50 or more About US$ 64

    Set of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.
    A3 Poster of Prize winning photograph 'Kumbh Pilgrim Mamta Dubey & Infant Child' (suitable for framing), signed by the photographer.
    Copy of the book once published

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 127

    2 Sets of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Landscape, 5 x Portrait images from the series.
    A3 Poster of Prize winning photograph 'Kumbh Pilgrim Mamta Dubey & Infant Child' (suitable for framing), signed by the photographer.
    Inclusion in back page of book, listed as supporter of the project.
    Copy of the book once published.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About US$ 319

    Signed 12” x 16” Print (choice from one landscape, one portrait) - unlimited Edition Print
    3 sets of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.
    Inclusion in back page of book, listed as supporter of the project.
    Signed copy of the book once published.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 637

    Signed 16” x 24” (choice from one landscape, one portrait), Limited Edition Print (1of7) .
    3 sets of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.
    Inclusion in back page of book listed as a supporter of the project.
    Signed copy of the book once published.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £750 or more About US$ 956

    Your portrait taken by Giles in London plus a 16" x 20" print of it.
    3 sets of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.
    Inclusion in front page of book listed as sponsor of the project, with thanks.
    3 signed copies of the book once published.
    (NB - Travel and accommodation not included.)

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,275

    One day one-on-one photography workshop in London with Giles Price, with a choice of Portrait or Landscape focus.
    5 sets of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.
    Signed 20” x 30” (choice from one landscape, one portrait), Limited Edition Print (1of7) .
    Inclusion in front page of book listed as sponsor of the project, with thanks.
    4 signed copies of the book once published.
    (NB - Travel and accommodation not included.)

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £5,000 or more About US$ 6,374

    Helicopter flight over London and a masterclass in aerial photography as part of a one day one-on-one photography workshop in London with Giles Price, a master-class in.
    5 sets of 10 A5 Postcards – 5 x Portrait, 5 x Landscape images from the series.
    Signed 24” x 36” (choice from one landscape, one portrait), Limited Edition Print (1of7).
    Inclusion in front page of book listed as sponsor of the project, with thanks.
    5 signed copies of the book.
    (NB - Travel and accommodation not included.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)