1997, Kerala, India
Plate 71, 18x27
There are scenes upon this earth that are beyond words, and there are scenes upon this earth that I believe to be beyond picture — the camera itself being incapable of capturing what it sees. Such was the case in southern India seeing the gigantic net fishing done just before twilight. This method of fishing started in China and dates back some 2000 years. The nets are as thin and fine as a vapor and are stretched over unbelievably long polls. The whole assembly is raised, and as it goes up, it spreads out as if it were some gigantic prehistoric dragonfly, then it is dropped onto the surface of the waters and allowed to sink. The length of time that it is allowed under water is the exclusive domain of the fisherman. At an exact moment, the net is literally yanked away from the water and a great spray goes skyward in every direction, capturing the beauty and the colors.
When I first came upon this scene, I could not believe that something so commercial could at the same time be so breathtakingly beautiful. No picture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre has ever better shown beauty as I saw it on that river in southern India—true magic in the twilight.