Ways of Seeing Wetness

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Gupta, Pamila


Wasafiri, Volume 36, Number 2, p.37–47 (2021)




This article takes John Berger's seminal book on art criticism, Ways of Seeing (1972), as a starting point for looking at the South Asian monsoons from the perspective of wetness. Revisiting Gupta's 2012 work ‘Monsoon Fever’ to think through its watery elements as more closely tied to the visual, sensorial, and affective, it focuses on three distinct representations of the monsoons: photographer Ritesh Uttamchandani's 2014 ‘Facing the Monsoon’ series set in Mumbai, which showcases a range of personalised attitudes towards contending with monsoonal rains as an urban infrastructure; journalist Cynthia Barnett's journey to write the story of the fine art practice of crafting attars in Kannauj, India, wherein the fragrant earthy wetness of the monsoon (considered ‘rain perfume’) is captured in a bottle, and includes synthetic versions; and lastly, a lone photograph by Arko Datto that suggests the sublime monsoon as affect in all its subdued wet colours but also portends climate change for South Asia. Together, these watery readings suggest a renewed attention to ways of seeing the monsoon differently, via the visual, sensorial, and affective.


Publisher: Routledge _eprint: https://doi.org/10.1080/02690055.2021.1879484