The portraits in the series Plant Wallahs (2015) depict local nursery workers Yaspal, Sonu and Dinesh, in Defence Colony, a rich residential enclave in Central New Delhi. The presence of what we now see as ubiquitous houseplants in their cycle carts for door to door sales belies their proximity to their ‘native’ habitat. While the plants grow wild nearby they are also cloned and cultivated for decorating the marble interiors and private terraces of the growing middle class and expat community.

On a micro scale, this local migration and modest entrepreneurship mirrors a much larger, more violent and global history of the seizing, relocating and capitalising of natural resources and in turn re-casts our own tropical houseplants as ancestors of long established colonial trade routes. Routes that themselves enabled the photos to be produced by the artist in collaboration with the growers as a part of their daily interactions.

Share