Have you ever visited a place that seemed so melancholic? Not the damp, marshy landscapes that are so often associated with the word, but more a place that was once important, but now slowing fading away, except for the occasional tourist who might pass through? And just when you had made up your mind that the place was too silent, have you wondered whether it was just you who have been seeing it with those eyes; your own mood colouring the city in shades of melancholy, much like an Instagram filter changes the ambience of a place?
That is what happened when I visited Melacca, Malaysia recently. For whatever reason, my mood didn’t just filter my experience of the place, but even my photographs from that trip seemed tinged with emptiness. Emptiness not of the sad kind, but more the existential kind. Where there were wonderful market streets filled with shops and tourists, I saw only the broken tiled roofs and the hanging umbrellas. Where there were waterfronts with brilliantly-coloured row houses, I only saw empty streets and back alleys leading away from them. The road taken on holidays usually leads me out of my own existence, but this time, it was trip filled with self-reflection and silence. But hey, it was a different experience, and I liked the pictures, so here they are – a series of photographs that I’d like to call “A Still Life”.