In a new photographic series, photographer Vivek Vadoliya and stylist James Lalthanzuala capture Delhi’s dancers and metalheads, dressed exclusively in secondhand and found objects, to reimagine discarded objects not as trash—but as treasure.
Who deems an object beautiful?
When we throw an object away, we say it’s broken; that it’s been used; that it’s ugly or obsolete. But what if it was given another chance—not as trash, but as treasure? In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, samsara represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth. What if the objects we discard were given the chance to be reborn?
Delhi is routinely ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Upon arrival, you feel the lingering cloud of smoke, a visceral depiction of our presence in one of the busiest, most global cities. On walks across the city, through its many construction sites and street markets, stylist James Lalthanzuala collected thrashed objects at the end of their life. Among the disposed materials were old car covers, a broken basket, and discarded toys, but Lalthanzuala was adamant to inject them with a new sense of purpose and love.
The result is a series of playful wearable structures that combine “trash,” secondhand clothing, and local designers.
Together, in Delhi Punks, Lalthanzuala and I explore the idea of punk—the merging of old and new—something that typically defines the Indian spirit. Punk’s origins in fashion are deliberately confrontational: a reaction to the normative trends and aesthetics of mainstream culture. Mohawks and wild hair styles, ripped and repaired clothing—its DIY ethos is used to customize and create a platform for political change. After all, it’s a revolutionary statement aimed at expanding the parameters of self-expression and subverting the conventional notions of identity in a refusal to conform to historical norms and binaries.
The punks in our photographs are Delhi youth, boys, dancers, and metalheads, street cast from James’ community. I was recently moved by Ocean Vuongs’ On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. He writes, “If, relative to the history of our planet, an individual life is so short, a blink of an eye, as they say, then to be gorgeous, even from the day you’re born to the day you die is to be gorgeous only briefly.” It brought me back to the question: Who deems an object, a person, beautiful? Our series exists as a reminder to find wonder in the unexpected; in the end, it is we who hold the power to redefine beauty and, in doing so, shape the future of our shared planet.
Beauty Shivani Joshi Fashion Assistant Ngaijodee Guite Cast Jashan Gill, Kunaal, Ojas Tyagi, Hriday, Powerchild, Deepu Rawat, Kaviraj K, Mrigank, Shashwat, Baji Rao