“Horn Please” could be considered the mantra of the Indian highway, and some version of the phrase is written on the back of practically every truck on the road in India today.
One unmistakable feature of the Indian highway is the presence of these brightly decorated trucks that ply the country’s roads. The men who drive these trucks spend long hours on the road and can be away from their families for weeks at a time, so their trucks act as a second home and they take great pride in them. The interior and exterior of the trucks are colorfully decorated with paintings, stickers, garlands, tassels, and shrines, which are not only a unique form of folk art but also an expression of individualism.
Photographer Dan Eckstein traveled over 10,000 km across India's byzantine and burgeoning road network documenting these elaborately decorated trucks festooned with lights, brightly colored text, paintings of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Christian deities, pop cultural fixtures, and geometric patterns—symbols representing a blinding mashup of new and old India. What Eckstein produced is a singular portrait of the subcontinent: distinctly Indian, and a vividly colored reflection of this country in flux between tradition and modernity. Horn Please serves as a psychedelic guide to design in India, from the hand-painted lettering covering the trucks, to the mindboggling use of color, to the specifically Indian patterns and motifs, and a showcase of the visual vernacular of the subcontinent.
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Dan Eckstein (b. 1980) is a photographer based in Los Angeles, California and Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised in Western Massachusetts, Eckstein spent four years studying photography at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. After graduation, he moved to New York City to assist renowned Magnum photographer Steve McCurry. Eckstein's work has been widely published and was included in The Collector's Guide to Emerging Art Photography. Recently he was awarded Best Photo Essay in PDN's World In Focus contest and included in American Photography 30.Review:
"Dan Eckstein’s photos of color-bombed trucks in India just might inspire your next vacation to the subcontinent. Eckstein’s series for his forthcoming book “Horn Please” is equal parts about the camaraderie of different drivers from all regions of India as it is about the statements their brightly decorated trucks make."
-The Washington Post
"The trucks are bold expressions of individuality and repositories of masculine, laboring pride. Drivers treat their rigs as evolving works of art, periodically commissioning a new illustration from roadside artists like one might collect tattoos."
"On a purely aesthetic level, the trucks intrigue the eye. But as Eckstein talked to more drivers, he learned that their ornamentations are not merely decorative—they’re a reflection of the drivers’ religious beliefs, caste, region, and personality. In his photographs, Eckstein aimed to portray the trucks as extensions of their drivers. Approached from the front, the vehicles almost look like faces."
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Conde Nast Traveller
The New Republic
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