The Barefoot College Photography:


For the pictures, please click hiere


A unique photographic activity accrued during the twenty-nine years of existence of the Barefoot College: A huge photographic documentary project started almost spontaneously. Simple cameras were given on a regular base, in the hands of villagers in order to document from there own perspective the life in Tilonia.

Men and women with no western orientation, no artistic education or background and profoundly important - no awareness of Western Photographic aesthetic and languish, became a "one day photographers”. They contributed their own ego less and naive experience of photography to the commune project of documenting the Barefoot College community.


The archive is a unique phenomenon. It has a wide perspective, representing almost three decades of systematic photographic documentation with black & white, and color negatives as well as slides, which contain about 100,000 images. The archive was photographed entirely by “unknown” rural villagers. In this case however, we do not deal with the term “unknown” Photographer, in the same way we usually reefer to in the case of an unidentified photographer. Such a photographer might have been a trained photographer, but the men, woman & children who held the camera for a day, or a week, in the fields and villages in a remote part of Rajasthan, India, can not even be considered amateur photographers.


The result is an authentic photographic documentation from the perspective of the insider, who is both the “eye of the beholder” and its subject matter.

To the viewer it reveals treasure of great beauty. It is fortunate that such rare conditions and circumstances did accrued. The photographs gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate the ability of reality, to manifest itself into a form of order and beauty, simply by surrender it self to the formal aspects of the photographic medium. Frame, view angle, focal point, a sense of space, timing and the nature of the reality that attracts the eye, all seems to become an independent mechanism of photo making, not motivated by any human parameters such as: attention, goal, artistic preferences, discrimination or a strive for achievement.

It might be argued that we are looking at an archive of “photographs without photographers”. The person who pressed the shutter of the camera - the Barefoot College photographer, did not possessed any of the characteristic of a “photographer’s ego”. All of them were untrained and uneducated “barefoot” photographers. They did not have excess to magazines, exhibitions, photo albums, advertisement, commercial photography or any other photography-related Media or objects. Influence of that kind was not present in their lives, and they were not motivated by any personal agenda.

An evidence of that is in the fact that none of the 100,000 images was ever claimed by any of the many “Barefoot” photographers, or even simply printed from the negatives until recently.

The negatives were compiled in poor conditions for many years, and only when the existence of this archive was brought to our attention, an aesthetic evaluation process started to take place.


                                                                   Curators: Varda Polak Sahm, Eyal Perry