Time, in terms of photography, is a series of unclicked or unregistered moments. Time stops at least for a second when the photographer clicks the button, and that particular moment becomes an event in itself. It carries within the weight of a performed history and an unraveled future. An event registered by a photographic moment becomes the time compressed beyond recognition, which ironically is called a recognizable image. Unrecognizable time turns out to be a recognizable image in a photograph and behaves absolutely irresponsible either to the image itself or to the unrecognizable time. The responsibility falls squarely back on the viewer who inadvertently before a photograph becomes a decipherer of sorts, an archaeologist by chance, with nothing but the knowledge of history at his disposal to dig further.
A photograph by Kishore Parekh, an image of a deserted street and two people, two freedom fighters in action and another fighter whose gun juts into the frame, with a single boot at the foreground, obviously tells us that it is a picture taken from some combat zone. Beyond that what exactly does the picture tell us? Perhaps, with no explanatory literature to go with it, the photographic image could be a stand in metaphor for any combat zone from any part of the world where daily life of the ordinary people is shaken up with the presence of soldiers in action. The deserted street and the invisible enemy however do not tell us whether the action is all about resistance or invasion. What is present also predetermines what is absent and the confusion, therefore the concentration of the image increases as the lack of information around the image thickens. Yet, the apparent opaqueness never leaves the viewer alone. He has to turn to history to unravel the secret of a photographic image.
In the case of the famous series ‘Bangladesh: A Brutal Birth’ by Kishore Parekh taken during the 1971 Indo-Pak War in which the Indian contingent of MuktiBahini (Freedom Fighters) liberated the East Pakistan aka Bangladesh, most of the images are supplemented with textual interpretations by Parekh himself. The abovementioned photograph comes from the same series and rather than the combat action what catches the viewers’ attention is the lone boot in the foreground. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the German philosopher had convincingly interpreted the worn out boots painted by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and traced the working class pains and deprivations, a similar hermeneutical approach that John Berger (1926-2017) would take later in his landmark work ‘Ways of Seeing.’