New Delhi, India, 2016
Made in August 2016, the School Chalo project takes place in New Delhi, in the central district of Chandi Chowk, near twelve schools. Charles Fréger is already familiar with the school environment, the school being, as early as 1999, one of the first community circles explored by this photographer who was then just leaving. In Africa, in Asia, often during these trips, the photographer visits schools, observing the physiognomies, the attitudes and the uniforms. He photographed apprentices in the Jura (Pattes blanches, 1999-2000), students in an English school (Notre Dame, 2000) and a girls’ school in Ramgarh, in the Jharkhand region, bordering Tibet and the Himalayas (Indian School for Girls, 2010). Gradually, the photographer sees his relationship to the model definitively modified. The age difference with these teenagers is no longer minimal as it was at the beginning, he no longer shares this piece of territory with them, he has passed to the other side, that of the world of adults and, himself a father, the world of parents.
With School Chalo, the photographer embraces within the same frame the collective dimension, realizing no longer individual portraits but group portraits. Children in greater or lesser numbers, an adult and a rickshaw, a bicycle or a motorcycle: here are the crews photographed, following the same shooting protocol adopted some twenty years earlier. In other words, a posed and theatrical way, taking care of the attitudes as much as the choice of the environment. From one image to another, from a rickshaw to its sidekick painted in the colors of this other school, from a driver to another father, from turbans to tunics, we guess castes and religious affiliations. At the foot of their rickshaw or at their sides, these figures form a precipitate of the contemporary society of New Delhi.