Let’s face it: Most of us have to work for a living. You know, to pay the bills and maybe, hopefully, put some money away so that one day when we’re too old and frail to work, we’ll have something to help us get by. For a lot of people, unless you are lucky and love what you do for a living, work is drudgery. Clock in, work, eat lunch, clock out, go home. Rinse and repeat.
Work is such a huge part of our lives that it has been immortalized, humorously and not so humorously, in movies, music and literature. Who can forget such memorable songs related to work like Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It.” Then there’s Mike Judge’s darkly funny 1999 movie “Office Space.” And in the realm of books, there’s Studs Terkel’s classic nonfiction masterpiece “Working.”
The two songs referenced above spent more than a week at the top of the charts, “Office Space” has become a cult classic (who can forget Milton and his red stapler?) and “Working” was a best-selling book when it came out in 1974 and remains relevant for how it looks at the way work has fit into American life.
Of course, work isn’t just an American phenomenon. It’s necessary all around the world. No less so than in places such as India, where photographer Swarat Ghosh lives … and works.
Ghosh’s latest project, “Boxed,” is about office work life, a universal story that he says is “about the modern/contemporary workplace where we spend almost as much time [as we do] at home or outside. It’s the association that helps people support their families, helps to pursue their dreams and maintain a certain lifestyle which they are habituated with.”
Ghosh’s day job is as a visual designer for a technology company that he says “creates innovative products and services from India for global markets.” He made the photos of this project, with approval from his company, in his own workplace, lending it a very personal bent.
Ghosh’s work is a playful meditation on the “boxes,” or office spaces, where a lot of us around the world spend our time. Ghosh uses his camera to find unexpected, sometimes humorous views of the stereotypical scenes we might normally associate with work. As Ghosh told In Sight, he finds “absurd shapes and optical illusions that let your imagination run free to break the so-called stereotype scenes” of office work.
Although Ghosh cites no specific photographers who have directly influenced his work on “Boxed,” he does acknowledge being well-versed in some of the work on office life that has been previously published, including the work of New York Times Magazine’s Kathy Ryan and her ongoing project, “Office Romance,” as well as the work of Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk in his book, “Office.”
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