Photo Mail constructively and critically zooms into the life and work of photographers, their art and techniques, contemporary theory aesthetics, material philosophy and sociology
Unlike the rest of South India, where Christians have a history of about 2,000 years, this temple town has seen only three generations of Christians that constitutes roughly about 2.7% of the total population. A majority of them are first or second-generation Tamil Christians and they are yet to completely convert from their traditional practices and lifestyle.
What motivated Weideman to keep photographing? The answer to this is also an important quality that makes his photographs intriguing. He continued shooting even though he was not exhibiting nor getting into any sort of limelight until the mid-90s. Passion for the medium, of course. But there is more.
Review of Mallahs, the boat of Gangetic geography, photographic series of Shibu Arakkal. For several hundred years these boatmen on the Ganga and the Yamuna have handed down their oars from father to son. I was intensely drawn to the purpose of their lives, to carry people back and forth on these rivers. Almost married to their boats, these men. To live almost all of their lives on these wooden vessels, going about their worldly chores and belonging to a tribe of menfolk, they pride themselves on being the real caretakers of these mystical rivers. Almost as if they are born on these boats and just as possibly may breath their last on it, the Mallaah men live lives removed from their families and children.
Across the world there are ongoing attempts to construct a ‘people’s history’ through photographs. Memory Projects, they are fondly called, focus mainly on the pre-digital era when photography was not as common as today. Bengali photographer Anandarup Goswami’s photography series ‘A Home of No Return’, though not directly linked with any memory project, shows certain resemblances with the latter’s style, and yet carries its own soul. A Home of No Return visually narrates the past and the present through a mixture of faded and fresh photographs.
Abul Kalam Azad's ‘Men of Pukar’ does not try to ‘re-narrate’ Ilango’s Kaveripattinam but Azad has his own heroes and heroines and more often he cuts his depth of focusing short in order to present them within the discursive premises where the incongruity between the history and present day condition of the place is felt. He neither tries to document the relics of the past glory (if there is anything at all) nor claims his images to be that of some ‘historical’ moments. Instead, he allows viewers to delve into the ‘image-space’ for some cultural codes which would help them to re-read the historical narratives in multiple ways.
The myopic eye of the smart phone demands that the photographer has to be within a certain “intimate” distance to take a photograph. There has to be a certain connection between the one who is being photographed and the photographer himself – using a smart phone to create portraits of people means that the photographer is not a mere witness; the one who is photographed often looks straight into the camera and thus, at the photographer.