New York-based photographer Caleb Cain Marcus traveled the 1,500 miles of the Ganges River, winding through India and Bangladesh and capturing life and landscapes around the river through fog and ethereal light. Goddess, out now from Damiani, includes 48 of his images that explore the importance of the river as a spiritual and life-supporting resource.
Cain Marcus writes in his project notes for Goddess that the whole “length of the Ganga is believed sacred. Perhaps this belief has caused space to accumulate and become more present and more definite, or perhaps Ganga is sacred because the physicality of space has always been pervasive along her banks.” The photographs in Goddess are arranged chronologically to show the changes to the scenery when moving down the Ganges. He adds that “her essence and that of the people lured to her banks have mixed to form a type of space that is visceral, almost visible to the naked eye,” and in some photographs people photographed at a distance are dwarfed by the river’s presence, while in others the river is an invisible force. This is also a river notorious for pollution, and the photographs emphasize how much human contact is involved with the waterway.
Author Richard Ford writes in a forward for Goddess:
Much is seen in these photographs from a specifics-blurring distance, and sometimes from a height. Much is seen through fog. Light is often manipulated so as to appear fainter than we suspect it naturally was when the photograph was taken. And sometimes light seems simply inadequate for what would be a conventional picture. All of these diverse effects […] cause everything in every frame to be enticingly, visually, sometimes mysteriously in play.
Like Cain Marcus’s previous books — A Portrait of Ice (2012) on glacial landscapes in Alaska, New Zealand, and Norway, and The Silent Aftermath of Space (2010), about the spaces and illumination of New York City at night — the photographs center on the unique light of a place, from the foggy dawn at the reeds growing on the riverbanks to the flow of the river through the brightness of a village in midday.