Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 28, 2011.

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New York/Mumbai photographer Manjari Sharma re-imagines Indian deities in a new medium with detail and emotion. A series of 9 photos.

IMPORTANT: 

NEW GOAL: 25,0000

BACKERS, FRIENDS AND FAMILY! We have in fact reached our Goal of 20,000.
All of us have done this together. I am humbled by the participation and response beyond words. So thank you a million times over. If you watched my video, you must know that this funding was to produce 4 more images. 4 more deity recreations will allow me to complete the FIRST HALF OF THE PROJECT.

In the last 50 hours, before the Kickstarter deadline comes to pass, we could really take this to a new level. Between the kickstarter's fees, Amazon's processing fee and the production cost of rewards what I will have remaining in hand will be significantly smaller. Let's try and get this final tally to 25,000 and that will allow a complete 20K to go entirely towards the making of this project. 

I encourage you to share with friends that the price point on these prints of Maa Laxmi and the smaller editions are available for kickstarter only. These sizes and prices will not be available after project completion, so please, if you feel compelled, continue to back Darshan so it can get closer to it's ultimate goal of completion. 

Much Love, Regards and Blessings,
Manjari Sharma 

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Darshan is a Sanskrit word that means 'sight,' 'view' or 'vision'. My project Darshan aims to photographically recreate 9 classical images of gods and goddesses pivotal to mythological stories in Hinduism.

What is so unique about Darshan?

What is innovative about Darshan is that I am recreating these icons as photographs while maintaining their spiritual sanctity. Historically considered a mechanical device to keep record, photography didn't even start to find a place in galleries until the 20th century. It's no surprise then that paintings and sculptures of Hindu deities were the dominant way to experience Indian mythology. Despite my extensive exposure to Hindu temples and artifacts, I have never seen a photograph of a deity created from scratch. 

Darshan is my attempt to show that photos too can evoke a strong spiritual response. At a larger level Darshan is a cultural calling for me to preserve my heritage by using the medium of photography. Your money will go to the great cause of preserving this valuable Indian tradition and also towards a story being retold in a revolutionary way.   

How is the first image for Darshan created?

The first photograph created for this project is Maa laxmi, Hindu goddess of wealth and fortune. It is my aim to create from scratch every detail required to make the images in this series. In order to create the image of Maa Laxmi, the research came first. I studied all aspects towards the making of this image - starting from the colors, to wardrobe, to proportions, sketching and construction. The whole image from head to toe was very carefully plotted out. A diverse team came together: it included set & prop builders, makeup artists, art directors, painters, carpenters, jewelry experts and assistants. All of these people that you can see on the video are handpicked from their respective areas of expertise. The model you are looking at was also very carefully chosen after many auditions. Maa Laxmi's expression in the photograph is one that had to be very intently studied in order to emulate. The whole production was extremely time intensive and required meticulous attention because the sense of spirituality was heavily contingent on the authenticity and detail of the image.

How does the cost breakdown for Darshan?

The making of the first image of Maa Laxmi including raw materials, a team of 14 people, labor costs, and location and equipment rentals cost me close to $5000 to create. My monetary goal is based on the production costs described above, which will be the bare minimum I will need to create four more images. However, as the execution gets more complicated, costs get heavier. For instance, the complex prosthetics involved in the making of Lord Ganesh who bears the head of an elephant and the body of a man will increase production costs. Hence, while the goal is a bare minimum, the greater the contribution, the farther I can take this project.

Here is a complete list of the deities I intend to shoot...

  • Maa Laxmi
  • Lord Vishnu
  • Maa Durga 
  • Lord Shiva
  • Maa Saraswati
  • Lord Brahma
  • Lord Ganesh
  • Lord Hanuman
  • Maa Kali

How do you envision this finally presented. 

I see Darshan displayed as an installation of 6 feet tall prints. An exhibit will be designed to evoke the experience of a Hindu temple. Just as in a temple the images will be lit up and cordoned off from the viewer and the route to their Darshan will be delineated such that the seeker is guided from image to image taking in the spirituality and the photography as one unified experience.

How Was Darshan Born: The History and Philosophy

Darshan is the culmination of my art and spirituality, both objects of my devotion.

I was born and raised in Mumbai, India to very spiritual parents who exposed me to Hinduism, its teaching and artifacts from a very early age. Visiting countless Indian temples frequently was common practice to us. Like all teenagers, I explored my own voice and a lens to see the world through. I found it in photography. I moved to the USA to follow a degree in Fine Art photography. My life in this new found culture transformed and pretty soon temple visits were replaced with frequent trips to art galleries, museums and studios, where art was respected and placed on a pedestal to honor. In my own life, in an intriguing way, the museum had now become the temple. 

One of my favorite teacher's once said, 'art is all about the process'. I've never forgotten that. This insight enabled me to observe the following parallel - as devotees, as students, as artists we frequently visit what we regard our own temples of worship. We take our aspirations and desires to these places. We hope that a piece of art or a symbol of God will speak and send us a message. This communication inspires us and helps show us our path in life. Sometimes our expectation filled visit disappoints us, but ultimately it's our faith that keeps us going.

These parallels inspired me and this is how Darshan was born. While making the first image I discovered that what this project bridges is that be it photography or spirituality, both need practice faith and devotion

Darshan Needs YOU

No effort is spared in creating these images. It takes everything I can give in terms of time, organization, and research. And of course, much of that requires substantial monetary investment. After creating my first successful proof of concept with Mother Laxmi, the financial scope of this project is beyond me. It is now in the hands of the universe to see it through.  

My goal is what I believe to be the bare minimum amount I need for the completion of four more images. This will allow me to complete the first half of this project. Darshan will remain just a dream if not for the generosity of supporters like you. So I encourage you to be agents of art and contribute to this offering. If you have a second please share this with a friend, check out the rewards being offered in exchange for your generous help and I thank you for your time.

Rewards Examples

FAQ

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    59 backers

    • Thank you! This is referred to a good Indian shagun. (Shagun means luck in Hindi) • You will be credited for helping make the Darshan project a success on my website

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    138 backers

    • A pack of five special-edition Maa Laxmi greeting cards • You will be credited for helping make the Darshan project a success on my website • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

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    35 backers

    • A colorful canvas Indian deity graphics bag (see image below) • Everything in the $21 reward • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

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    99 backers Limited (151 left of 250)

    • One editioned and signed Maa Laxmi 8x10 image • A silk screened “Darshan Camera” T-shirt (see image below) • A 100 gram bag of Mama Sharma's secret recipe of authentic home ground Garam Masala • Everything in the $51 reward • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

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    • One editioned and signed Maa Laxmi 11x14 image • All rewards from the $101 level • Personalized email updates • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

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    • One editioned and signed Maa Laxmi 16x20 image • All rewards from the $101 level • Personalized email updates • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

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    • One editioned and signed Maa Laxmi 24x36 image • All rewards from the $101 level • Personalized email updates • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

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    • One editioned and signed six foot collector image Maa Laxmi • All rewards from the $101 level • Personalized email updates • Note: Please add $10 for international shipping

Funding period

- (60 days)