Across the Indian city of Mumbai, candy floss remains popular for those looking for an affordable treat as the country emerges from a gruelling series of Covid lockdowns and restrictions.
Photographer Jon Enoch’s newly-released series shows the candy floss vendors who live and work in the western sprawl of Mumbai, near the beaches and fairs, and their unique and varied ways of displaying their goods and attracting a buyer.
Mumbai is India’s most populous city, home to both Bollywood stars and the country’s financial centre. India’s recent economic expansion is being stalked by a growing obesity and dental crisis. Lassi, fresh juices and home-cooked foods are being replaced with an explosion of cheap sugar.
Candy floss and brightly coloured Indian sweets have been found to sometimes use banned artificial food colouring, specifically Rhodamine B, which is a staining fluorescent dye, banned because it’s potentially carcinogenic and unfit for human consumption.
Enoch, who won the prestigious Smithsonian award 2020 for his images of Hanoi motorcycle delivery drivers, said: “When I read that the desire to create the perfect eye-catching bright pink candy floss often leads to unauthorised colouring agents being added to the mix, I thought it’s the perfect metaphor for the ills of our time.
“My photography projects tend to capture a fast-changing world and how traditional aspects of a large city are changing – for better or worse – through the embracing of modernity.
“The images were taken at night time, partly due to logistics – it’s cooler and usually quieter – and partly because it gives me the chance to experiment with lighting and create a specific portrait of these candy floss sellers.
“However, I found it fascinating that in Mumbai, it was never quiet and it was hard to find a space that wasn’t crammed with people. Life just goes on – day and night!”
You can find more of Jon Enoch’s work here