This is an emotive portrayal of ‘The Great Unwashed’, the multitudes that form the very core of India and yet find mainstream representation only through their extremes. Their un-exotic everyday human banalities receive no attention and go unrecorded. Fabien’s preoccupation with them has led him to a wholly subjective mapping of their daily life. Renouncing all interaction with the real, he abandons himself to an imagined documentation of people who are an intimate part of his daily experience. To him, this study based on the realm of feelings comes closer to reality than any socio-economic or other such factual inquiry could. Not concerned by the negative overtones of the literary phrase, for him ‘The Great Unwashed’ becomes a fitting description of the masses. He exalts in the humanity that makes them great.
The project revels in the simple, shared beauty of the body of the Indian men. Here, the focus is on the ambiguous sensuality that derives from masses of men living together in a jumble of touch. Fabien sees them as one sinuous entity mirroring the human body; individual cells packed on to each other and sharing everything, be it sweat, sex, ideas or disease. Yet, to him, they remain strikingly individual.
For the last twelve years Fabien (b 1974) has been based in India, working in fashion and photojournalism. His work has been seen in publications including Elle, Vogue, GQ, L’Officiel, Wall Street Journal, Rolls Royce Yearbook and Elle Decor. As a French man living in India, his identity is defined by the confluence of two cultures; the one he was born in and the one he lives in.
His fashion and photojournalism images have the same visual language because of the way he looks at the body. He is sensitive to the placement of the body, its grace and the play of clothes on the body. Perhaps for this reason, his fashion images have a raw, gritty feel. His images conjure a pulsating vitality; as if colours, bodies and events are about to bang into each other. This vital chaos in his work comes from the deep impression that life in India continues to leave on him.