Face to Face
Photo Mail publishes Exclusive interviews with photographers, academicians and artists from related visual arts practice
Pulavar N Thiagarajan is a poet, writer, political activist and amateur photographer. Thiagarajan was brought up in Poompukar, and has completed his matriculation in Poompukar, and further pursued a course under Madras University. Thiagarajan learnt English and Tamil from school, and developed each through personal reading and study. He soon joined the Tamil Manila Congress (TMC), and fondly remembers meeting Gandhi at Mayavaram (presently Mayiladuthurai). He was active in the freedom struggle and continued to work with the Congress after Independence. A noted poet and writer, the most significant book that he has published is Poompukar Varalatru Yechangal, which is an academic book on the history of Poompukar. His journey in photography began in the 1940s and he has photographed the town and nearby areas, focussing on the temples, temple art, gatherings and landscapes. Ekalokam Trust for Photography, a non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting contemporary photography, is presently archiving the analogue photographs made by N Thiagarajan.
Punalur Rajan is a now-retired photographer who was one of the first photographers in Kerala who popularized the social documentary genre. Rajan is most recognized for his portraits of litterateurs, politicians and cine-personalities. Rajan’s photography can be described as being an offshoot of the same thought that produced Sunil Janah. The Communist Party was an integral driving force in both of their careers and in their photographic practice. A reflection of Sunil Janah’s impact in the national level can be seen in the influence of Rajan in a regional level. Photographing notable personalities, especially literary icons, was a trend that was and continues to be widespread in Kerala, supported by the many weekly and daily publications that wanted these photographs. Such images were largely attempted by journalistic photographers, rather than studio photographers, despite portraiture not being an area of specialization for most of them. Rajan’s skill in portraiture is what set him apart from the other photographers who have indulged in this genre over the years.
Selvaprakash Lakshmanan is an independent photographer based in Bangalore. He earned his Masters in Communication from Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli (2000 - 2002). In the year 2002, he started his career in photography as a staff photographer for Dinamalar, a leading Tamil newspaper and has later worked with Dinakaran, DNA and Time Out Magazine. His photographs have been published in leading National and International newspapers and magazines and exhibited in photo festivals. In this exclusive interview, he is sharing his work life and thoughts on photography.
Ramesh Varma is a noted stage actor and director. He is also a Kathakali performer and has acted in lead roles in few Malayalam cinemas. An alumnus of Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, and School of Drama, Thrissur, he is currently a lecturer in the theatre department in Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady. His theatre works are notable for their focus on regional aesthetics and forms, with due importance being given to innovation and contemporary thought. He takes keen interest in photography, and has been practicing it diligently for the past six years. The numerous and varied photographs taken during his ‘Morning Walk’, a series of black and white images, are indeed theatrical, in the truest sense. Ramesh Varma has worked as a curator in ITFoK. In this exclusive interview by Arjun Ramachandran / Photo Mail, Ramesh Varma talks about aesthetics, the direction, and the future of theatre, while touching on the personal and the political facets of expression in different media.
Fowzia Fathima is a cinematographer, who graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. She is well-regarded as a teacher, having taught in various institutes including the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute. She has recently come into further prominence for pioneering the Indian Women Cinematographers’ Collective – a first of its kind effort in uniting women cinematographers across the Indian film industry.
Born to Lt. Vakkom K.Lakshmanan and K.Krishnamma in Vakkom in 1969, Johny ML started writing poetry at an early age and got his first poem published when he was thirteen. His father being one of the founder members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in Kerala, Johny developed an interest in politics and started following his father’s footsteps in village reformation. Reading collected writings by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in his teens left a deep impression in him and guided by his mother he started reading poetry and literature avidly. Johny finished his school education in Government High School, Vakkom. He took science stream for his Pre-Degree and spent two years in the Sree Narayana College, Sivagiri, Varkala. In 1987, he joined the University College, Thiruvananthapuram and completed his BA and MA in English Language and Literature in 1992. In 1993, he joined the Fine Arts Faculty, MS University, Baroda and took MFA in Art History and Criticism in 1995. In 2003, with the support of the Charles Wallace India Trust he took MA in Creative Curating from the Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK. Though he enrolled for a PhD in the IIT Hyderabad, he decided to discontinue it after a year. After working as a Junior Lecturer in a higher secondary school in Kerala, Johny opted to become an art historian and writer. He started off as an art critic in 1995 with Hindustan Times and Indian Express. He went on contributing art columns in all the New Delhi based dailies. His column in the Hindu Business Line in late 1990s consolidated his position as an art critic in Delhi. He has been having his short and prolonged stints as a political journalist since 1997. He became a senior correspondent with the Malayalam Vaarika and in Tehelka.com. He was with Malayala Manorama for a year in 2005. JohnyML is the founder editor of India’s first online art magazine, mattersofart.com. He also founded and edited one of the most popular online art journals, artconcerns.com (now defunct). He has been an editor of the Art and Deal magazine. He contributes to Art India Magazine, Creative Minds, Art Journal and many other exclusive art magazines. Currently he writes in www.stanacemagazine.in and naradanews.com. Starting a blog in 2008 was a turning point in Johny’s career. As an avid reader and writer, Johny started making independent blog entries on art, culture, cinema and life. He named it after the famous statement of Malcolm X, ‘By All Means Necessary.' He also goes by the name Aksharananda, which he has coined himself, while embarking on his personal journey of spiritual pursuits. This popular blog is largely followed by the art and cultural communities from all over the world.
Thierry Cardon is a French photographer born in Zaire. He spent his teenage years in Morocco before studying in Paris School of Fine Arts. He now lives in Blois, where he devotes himself to his librarian job, his art therapist's activities at a psychiatric hospital for children, and to photography. A dedicated printmaker and an educator, Thierry conducts workshops for young and aspiring photographers. He has published several photo-book and has exhibited in art galleries and other spaces in France. He works with traditional techniques, has mastered different chemical printmaking processes, and admits to consciously taking a slow route towards the end result, comparing it to meditation. Thierry uses digital technology only minimally, stressing that knowledge of traditional techniques is crucial to gaining flexibility and escaping the narrow avenues offered by commercially popular methods and prints. He was part of Ekalokam Trust for Photography's Project 365 Tiruvannamalai Public Photo-art Project done in 2014 - 2015.
Bangalore-based photographer Jiby Charles is one among them. Born in Cochin, he has travelled across India, his photographic interest being wildlife, landscapes and the Indian wilderness. In this interview, Jiby shares his experience as a Project 365 photographer.