An Indian acquaintance once told me, “In India, every 40 kilometers everything changes: the food, the language, the mentality. The only constant are the conditions in the governmental offices.”

I wanted to review this thesis, so I created photographs in three Indian states and 14 different state offices. While there is a strict ban on photography in all institutions, my ticket in was the fact that I studied at the National Institute of Design in India from January to May 2017.

I wanted to produce a series that was divorced from romantic stereotypes. As I created this series, I discovered a connection between India and the Western world through their shared love of excessive bureaucracy.

In India, the inefficiency of the authorities was paired with a self-assuredness that fascinated me. It encouraged me to investigate the bureaucracy with greater intensity.

Although Germany and India could hardly be more opposed on first sight, both countries are united by their bureaucratic insanity (even if in completely different ways…).

—Ole Witt

This series was singled out in our Exposure Awards 2018. See all of the inspiring work by the 39 winners, finalists and jurors’ picks!