Visions through the viewfinder

These trees hold memories…they have seen people laugh, cry, pray, kiss, and cuddle over time, across generations.
An immensely personal medium, photography captures fleeting moments and emotions and is a portal to memory in time
An immensely personal medium, photography captures fleeting moments and emotions and is a portal to memory in timePhoto | Express

CHENNAI : While shuttling between Tiruchy and Thanjavur during the lockdown, the rustling trees, green canopy, and intricate vein-like branches were photographer Muthuswamy’s constant companions. They became the subject of his admiration and the object of his lens. “I wished to hear from the long-time masters of this land, their experiences and how they have been through ages.

These trees hold memories…they have seen people laugh, cry, pray, kiss, and cuddle over time, across generations. And yet they stand there, as witnesses with no judgment, prejudice, or opinions,” says the senior associate engineer at TCS. He opts a cyanotype medium to freeze them in blue and white images.

Quoting Kahlil Gibran, he says, “Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the skies.” His series, a homage to nature, is among the 280+ clicks displayed at Lalit Kalit Akademi, at the 10th annual Chennai Weekend Clickers (CWC) exhibition. This show — celebrating a decade of passion, community, and art — features 95 photographers from India, and varied themes. The uniting factors are tales of the world and an indomitable love for photography.

A man working at the salt pans, the sharp features of temple sculptures, two girls studying under the red-candle light, a child dashing through the waters — each click tells a story. CWC member Arvind Ganesan says, this exhibition (with four categories — debut, solo, instafest, and open) aims to facilitate a knowledge-sharing session, and display stories. “The photos you take on the mobile phone only keep adding to the data. No matter how much you’ve put up on Instagram when you look back at it, it would feel like there is no big purpose. When you print and see it, the photo obtains life. It feels like an achievement,” he says.

Festivals in focus

In black and white, Suriya Kathir’s images transport us to the buzzing festivals — from Mayanakollai in Kaveripattinam, ther festival in Thiruchengode to Koovagam in Villupuram. Titled ‘Religious Ecstasy’, this collection of eight-odd photographs examines folklores and fetes in villages, and devotees

playing the roles of gods. “As an atheist, I just wanted to see the connection between humans and gods. ‘Introspection’ looks at the condition of transpersons before and after the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) as after the implementation, transpersons have been humiliated. Before that, Indian culture and mythology portrayed the community as gods,” says Suriya, who has been capturing festivals since 2015.

Equally enchanted by festivals and cultures, Balaji Natarajan’s three images are in the debut category. Since 2019, Balaji has been documenting ways of living. Mohammed Rafi, during his travels and all the CWC walks, searches for secret and personal bonds between animals and humans. For instance, one click in his series ‘Unseen Bond’ depicts three puppies nuzzling against a man on a field. “In a Chengalpattu village, there are many samanthipoo fields. A farmer has a stove there and feeds puppies. These puppies would trail after him,” he says. This love for animals arose from his bond with his childhood cat.

An immensely personal medium, photography captures fleeting moments and emotions and is a portal to memory in time. “Art grows at CwC and we evolve with art,” Aravind says. The inauguration on Sunday saw cinematographer Ravi Varman, writer Tamizh Prabha and journalist Jeyarani in attendance.

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