Dharavi Slum by Michael Robinson Chavez and Jonas Bendiksen


I was tipped off to a great new set of photos by Michael Robinson Chavez from this thread at Lightstalkers. I’ve seen his work pop up over the years, but my friend Ethan Welty, who met Chavez at the Foundry Workshop, brought him up again a few weeks ago, and I was very happy to see this new project of his from the Dharavi slum, India’s largest, in Mumbai. Be sure to check out his website too, he’s covered just about every “big” story around the world in the last decade or two.


See his slideshow from the Dharavi slum at LA Times Website.

There is some very solid work in here, immediately reminiscent in tone and even scope of the work of my friend Jonas Bendiksen‘s work from his project “The Places We Live” and specific story therein on Dharavi for National Geographic. About both, I couldn’t say it better than the great Bob Black, quoted from the above Lighstalkers thread:

“above all what I loved about the story (as I told Jonas about his new book), your story while about the poverity (sic) and toxicity and squalor of these districts contain inestimable joy, that is the story rather than bathing itself in the horror of the conditions, the desperation of the poverty, refuses to condescend but instead show all the working-walking fullness of their lives, including the joy and celebration…..something that many writers and photographers pass by in their attempt for the despondence and profoundity (sic) of poverty…”

Jonas Bendiksen's new book "The Places We Live"
While Chavez’s project could use a more stringent edit (and I must come clean that I’m not so much a fan of the ‘staccato’ use of images), I think it is incredibly strong and does not shrink in the light of Jonas’ earlier project, even given the similarities. And if you haven’t had a chance to look at Jonas’ project in full, seek it out on the magnum site. Its another intelligent, insightful and forward-looking project from him. And the book itself (not to mention the Exhibition at the Nobel Center in Oslo, which consists of ‘rooms’ with back-lit projectors) is incredibly innovative with gate-fold pages showing the “four walls” of typical homes in the slums he visited. He’s one energetic, inspiring guy .. I’m sure we’ll have more on him here at Dva as we go on.
Bravo to both.


  1. Finally got a chance to watch the slideshow. Definitely agree with the comment about the staccato pictures. Feels like jerky internet video or bad stop motion. Ed Kashi’s piece a while back was a bit more fluid, but I’m still suspicious of the gimmick. This guy’s work is nice, though I’m partial to Bendiksen’s. Chavez seems a little less personal and a bit overly tilty.

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  2. [...] in 2007 (which I believe allowed him to produce the amazing exhibition at the Nobel Center that I mentioned in an earlier post). If that didn’t convince you, let me reiterate that he is an incredibly hard working, [...]

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