Sebastian Sardi, a Swedish photographer, brings together in his book Black Diamond moving images on the mines of Jharkhand, India. He unveils the daily struggle of those communities, rendered vulnerable by globalisation.

Around ten years ago, Sebastian Sardi discovered an article about the deplorable worker rights, or the lack thereof, in a coal mine in Inner Mongolia, China. In 2008, he went there to investigate the scene and as a result of this trip, decided to become a professional photographer. Camera in one hand, he later continued his adventures in other mines seldom documented in Kazakhstan, in Russia and eventually in a city in India called Dhanbad, at the heart of the state of Jharkhand. A setting that can be found in Black Diamond, a work published by Kehrer editions. By releasing around fifty landscapes and portraits of this marginalised community, Sebastian Sardi put a face on the miners whose health and survival are threatened on a daily basis by the extraction of the “black diamond”.

The acknowledgement of an existence

Constant flows of statistics and numbers overwhelm the news and depersonalize contemporary socioeconomic issues around the world, leaving the readers desensitized. The goal of Sebastian Sardi’s book? To give a voice to a population rarely seen by the rest of the world. Through his powerful and revealing images, the artist presents to us the workers in the mines of Dhanbad. Their fixed gaze witnesses a certain intimacy with the viewer, a connection that transcends the initial distance. Except an acknowledgement of their existence, the subjects in his photos do not ask for anything. The miners, photographed during their daily life, question with their stare our position as powerless bystanders. The portraits and the desolate landscapes face each other and confirm the devastating social and ecological effects of coal extraction. Imposing and deserted pits, deteriorating houses… The mines, almost lunar, evoke a world put aside, a place far away from our Occidental society. A poignant glimpse inside an isolated area.


Sebastian Sardi, Black Diamond, Kehrer editions, 104 pages, €50.80.

© Sebastian Sardi