A photographer based in Bangalore, Cop Shiva, as his name suggests, leads a double life. When he’s not carrying out his duties as an officer of the law he’s working on his photography. Documentary in style, his photography deals with themes such as the theatrical, performance and disguise in contemporary Indian culture. Over the past few years his non-police work has begun to get the recognition it deserves in the world of contemporary art. Earlier this year he was listed as one of the top 15 emerging artists to discover at the India Art Fair [Artsy].
I met with Cop Shiva in what he told me is his favourite part of the city, Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens. It’s a place in complete contrast to modern day Bangalore, a now expanding mega-city. It’s here where he says, he can clear his mind and just walk.
It was at 1 Shanti Road (an artist residency and exhibition space) where Cop Shiva started to take his photographic practice seriously. Acting as a haven for the contemporary art scene in Bangalore it’s constant stream of artists offers an enriching dialogue on art in India. He’s still very much actively involved in the community there.
One of Cop Shiva’s best know works is titled ‘Being Gandhi’. It “is a photo documentation of Bagadehalli Basavaraj, a 46 year old teacher from a village in Karnataka. Basavaraj … emulate[s] Gandhi in an attempt to advocate his theories and philosophies. … He covers himself in silver paint, dresses like Gandhi and walks around the streets of villages and nearby cities …” [CopShiva.com]
To find out more about Cop Shiva and see more of his photography visit copshiva.com
These images are available for Editorial use via Alamy, obtain a licence here.
Copyright (unless specified otherwise): Ronan Haughton