Untouchables is a re-reading/re-interpretation of the word “untouchable” in the Indian context, re-appropriating the word as a title to the champions and enigmatic personas, both in historic, personal, social and pop-cultural contexts. The images are based on an autobiographical reality and an understanding of everyday life. They are mostly of poets, litterateurs, political leaders. For example, I have included found images of Kumaran Asan, M.G.R, Krishna Pillai, Mahatma Gandhi, Medha Patkar, etc., who had been remarkable in their ideology and contribution to society. It also has images of my mother, a self-portrait, and other persons connected to my personal life shot by me or found from family album. It also consists of objects and communicating articles that have left an indelible mark on the social, cultural, and political sphere, such as the one published by Trotskyists after Stalin’s death. It utilizes iconic figures that exist as intangibles in the local cultural subconscious, elevated to an ethereal plane, and translates them into a more universal visual language. By incorporating visual elements and the aesthetics introduced by the pioneers of western pop-art movements like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, etc., I am projecting these icons on a global canvas of pop-culture language. Digitally re-working scanned images, I have created an expansive body of work, smudging the borders between digital and analog, real and the surreal, image and iconography. The Pop Art language is used as a retro effect. From the image of Rajan – a haunting reminder of the harrowing tales of Emergency era Kerala, singed into the minds of young people – to the cover logo of Dinesh beedi – a pop-cultural symbol of sorts, an icon from an era when strong socialist winds were sweeping across the land – the series explores the incorporeal and impalpable associated with certain visuals. That way, Untouchables makes an active intervention in the common discourse of local micro-history, with the images themselves reflecting and relating to socio-political references.
Untouchables | 2000 – 2005 | Found Images and Photographic Prints, Scanned and Digitally Reworked