Biennale collateral holds international photo exhibition that pauses time

>>Overlapping with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, ‘Pause’ features images chiefly on human conflict stemming from war, politics and alienation, besides gender, religion, creed and nationality

The International Photography Exhibition, a collateral of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018.

The International Photography Exhibition, a collateral of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018.

Adding to the cosmopolitanism of the Jew Town here, a bustling street down the historical pocket is hosting an international exhibition of photographs essaying subjects of global concern and interest. Overlapping with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, ‘Pause’ features images chiefly on human conflict stemming from war, politics and alienation, besides gender, religion, creed and nationality.

 Curated by art consultant-writer K G Sreenivas, the 15-week show at Mattancherry’s Mocha Art Cafe is a collection of 100-plus photographs by six image-makers of transcontinental fame. They include the celebrated Nick Ut, whose ‘Napalm Girl’ clicked in 1972 during the Vietnam War, is on display at the venue opposite the vintage synagogue. The show, slated to run till March-end, also has more recent works by the 67-year-old photojournalist who lives in Los Angeles.

 Sreenivas, who mastered in international relations and diplomacy from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, notes that providence is a major asset of a good photographer. “You have to be at the right place at the right time,” says the journalist, whose show is conceived as a collection of photos of wars and their refugees. “Great timing turns around time. It makes history.”

 ‘Pause: The International Photography Exhibition’, convened in collaboration with the Kochi Biennale Foundation, is being held by Creative Brands (which publishes an international art magazine that has Sreenivas as the editor) and its parent company Conceptual Pictures Worldwide, a Hyderabad-based group that offers a variety of services including premium stock imagery, photography, computer graphics and video editing. The collateral exhibition, which began on December 14 last year, has a total of 105 images, mostly in colour.

 New York-based photojournalist Giles Clarke is a major presence at ‘Pause’. He comes with an array from his world-famous series that portrays human misery with poignancy. Among them are thought-provoking images of the gang cages of El Salvador, the immigrant crisis in Yemen and the plight of Haitians in the Caribbean Sea.

 A collection by American photojournalist Mark Edward Harris, chiefly looking at the crisis in North Korea, is also part of the display.

 Amid such gloomy portrayal of self-inflicted human tragedies, there comes certain comic relief. That is from Indian street photographer Vineet Vohra, 45. The self-taught image-maker from Delhi takes the visitor on a tour tinged with satire and humour people generally fail to notice in a day-to-day urban life.

 Plus, there is a collaborative endeavour by Bangladeshi Tanvir Taolad and German Boris Eldagsen, bringing images that are dense with introspection.

 “There is an alchemy between Tanvir and Boris,” notes Kochiite Sreenivas, whose parents hail from Kayamkulam in south-central Kerala. “The images they have taken in the dusk and the dark take you through the mechanics of light.”

 As for ‘Napalm Girl’, Nick had shot it four-and-a-half decades ago when he was a photographer with the Associated Press, the American news agency for which he served till retirement in March 2017. It portrays a handful of children running from their southeast Vietnam village of Trang Bang that was mistakenly hit by a bombing of volatile napalm. The image, with a naked nine-year-old girl crying and running along the middle of the road, became the face of the atrocities of Vietnam War and shaped the world opinion on the US involvement in the Indochina conflict that spanned two decades.

 Gang cages were El Salvador police’s 12×15 feet enclosures where common prisoners and street gangsters were imprisoned in bunches. Designed to detain a person for not more than three days, these coops of the Central American country had often no less than 30 prisoners jostling for space for months together.

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