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The Indian Quarterly – A Literary & Cultural Magazine – When the Party’s Over

When the Party’s Over

by Dhruv Malhotra 1

Dhruv Malhotra captures the ephemerality of some of the biggest events of our lives

The night has always held a powerful appeal for me. The silence, the heightened sense of the passage of time, the absence of disturbance: they all drive me to “look”. The longer one looks, the more the eye adjusts. More becomes visible. This carries over into my photographs, where I expose long enough to reveal what is ordinarily left dark.

My wanderings at night have led me to many sites that are transformed to host temporary events. These spaces are later reshaped to accommodate other things. I sought out these chameleon spaces, and began to photograph them.

Attuned, now, to the nuances of space and its uses, I was intrigued by the temporality of constructions upon public areas. For the period of a night or two, the open ground stands transformed by the additions made to it in the form of curtains, stages, lighting, etc. Such transformations happen for weddings, banquets, prayer meetings, conferences or public performances. They are assembled and then dismantled within a day or two of the event.

There are several photographs where people—guards, waiters, caterers—are asleep within these temporary constructions. These images led me from Sleepers to my next project, After Party. The photos on these pages are from the latter series.

I photographed many of these chameleon spaces throughout India, to register them before they vanished. It is in this registration that we can realise something, before these flickering spaces are gone, often to return as something else entirely.

After Party (2008-2014) is my third body of work by night. It closes the trilogy that began with Noida Soliloquy (2007-10) and continued with Sleepers (2007-12).







Dhruv Malhotra grew up in Jaipur. He majored in Economics but decided to become a photographer. Chronically insomniac, he wanders the streets with his Mamiya 6×7 and a tripod. His work focuses on urban areas and cities at night and engages with issues of progress, modernity and the otherworldly. He has shown widely in India and abroad. He lives between Jaipur and Delhi.


Read more in the current issue of The Indian Quarterly. There is a lot to read about The Night. Subscribe here.

One Comment

  1. Prabhat Mohanty September 20, 2016 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Beautifully captured.

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