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Flower Man Book

A stunning typology of flower sellers in Kolkata, India

Flowers are a hugely important part of Indian culture, used in everything from temple rituals to festivals and parties – and Malik Ghat flower market is the largest of its kind in India. Located in Calcutta, next to the Hooghly river, it attracts more than 2,000 sellers each day, who flock to peddle their blooms amid frantic scenes. After having visited Calcutta and its flower market for the first time, Danish photographer Ken Hermann decided to take portraits of the sellers, their magnificent gar- lands often appearing in stark contrast to their own dusty and sweat-soaked attire.

Ken Hermann’s images are pathways, connecting us to micro worlds and challenging us to rethink ideas of photographic rep- resentation. Passionate about individuals and their unique his- tories, he explores the fragile balance between people and their environment, between tradition and modernity. Hermann’s pho- tography seamlessly weaves cultural and political content, blending documentary and cinematic portraiture. His applica- tion of lighting, combining artificial with natural, takes the im- ages into a surreal space, creating dreamlike visions of everyday people.

Ken Hermann first came to India over fifteen years ago. He felt an instant kinship with the country and its mystery, culture and unmistakable photographic potential. The country holds great sig- nificance for him, as it was there he made the decision to become a photographer. Over the years he has made a name for himself exploring the relationship between people and their environ- ment,the fragile intersection of tradition and modernity. His pho- tography seamlessly weaves cultural and political content, through his unique blend of cinematic portraiture. He is not in- terested in sensational stories or perpetuating stereotypes. People and their energy and passion for life excite him.

The significance of Flower Men goes beyond its otherworldly charm. It presents us with photographs that encapsulate our de- sire for discovery. The more connected we become, the more we seek out the traditional and authentic. Hermann has transformed an irreverent observation into something miraculous. Creating universal images that transcend the barriers of language, culture and geography, while making us more conscious of our past as well as our present. Flower Men is an exquisite tribute to tradi- tion and a poignant future relic.

– from the introduction by Gemma Fletcher

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