Photographer Ronny Sen’s work in the coal mines of Jharia, India is about survival in an apocalyptic landscape.
What does the end of time look like?
Jharia was once a green forest. Coal was discovered here in the late 18th century and by the beginning of the 19th century most of India’s mineral resources were mined here. As the imperial government, mercenaries, and princely families wrestled for control of distribution, Jharia withstood their greed, though it eventually became a successor to its own suffering.
An underground fire has been burning since — for the last century — but its presence is now overground: inside homes, temples, schools, churches, and mosques. Places that were once thriving with life are now consumed by flames.
The End of Time is manifested with shards and fragments; random, scattered elements of human existence, and a community without a future — plunderers of coal who move from site to site with blasting mines. This is what survival in an apocalyptic landscape looks like.
Ronny Sen is a film director, writer and photographer based in Calcutta. His work revolves around the suffering of people he calls his own, and their resilience and solidarity which in his larger body of work illustrates the deep inequalities and inherent contradictions of both capitalist and socialist societies. His debut feature film 'Cat Sticks' world premiered in the competition section at Slamdance Film Festival, 2019 where it won the jury award. He has previously directed television documentaries for BBC. He started his career as a photographer and has made two artist books. He received the Getty Images Instagram Grant in 2016 for his work in Jharia coal mines. This was shown in his debut solo exhibition in 2018 — entitled Fire Continuum, exhibted at TARQ in Mumbai. He was invited to be an artist in residence in Poland by the Polish Institute in 2016 and in Japan by The Japan Foundation in 2013. His works are included in the permanent collection of the Alkazi Collection of Photography.