Preserving our heritage through photographic visuals

EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photography) has initiated a collective photo documentation of the fast changing vibrant culture and contemporary lifestyle of ‘ancient tri-Sangam Tamilakam territory’, now meagrely represented in a geography comprising modern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh. In the first phase, Tiruvannamalai, one of ancient heritage sites of India has been selected for documentation. In the next five year, EtP will document the Sanga ports Muziris (believed to be in Kondungallur) , Tindis (believed to be  in Kadalundi) and the entire Cauveri Delta culture and lifestyle. 

The fast changing global scenario and its technological advancement has made tremendous impact on the local ethnic culture. India is no exception to this phenomenon that is happening worldwide. Change is inevitable and any development has its own beauty and majesty. That is why progressive growth is always welcome. However, in this process, the vibrant ancient culture, its architecture, dresses, food habits, lifestyle, in general everything tends to fade away from the everyday life and culture of people. There is a possibility for our future generations to completely lose touch with our vivacious lifestyle, and the mystical roots of our culture.

In ancient times, kings and patrons encouraged the creation of art and architecture that stands as a museum of our yesteryear culture. These art works, wall paintings, sculptures, built heritages are owned and protected by the public. In contemporary times, there is a need to re-create in current context such public art works that would stand as a symbol of an eternality reflected in contemporary culture.

EtP’s interest is to document our ancient heritage and contemporary lifestyle through photographic visuals. Even though several thousand images are taken every day, these are neither accessible to the public nor comprehensively captured and preserved. Photographic practice, modified significantly through extant digital tools, has virtually made this medium a non-physical entity. The ‘good old’ techniques to document social lives have now merely become one-button applications. Going beyond mere appearance / effect, this project aims to bring out the time tested authenticity and quality of traditional photography, encompassing the modern scientific digital knowledge.

The project 365 photographers will be pre-dominantly using almost-extinct traditional photography techniques and processes (collodion dry plates, albumin prints, pin hole, serigraphy prints, bromide prints, cyanotype, gum dichromate, palladium etc.,). The Project also incorporates the modern digital techniques and platforms. All these diversified traditional and modern techniques will be amalgamated.

We belong to the lineage that properly believes ‘art is public property’, and that, more than as commodity, art is symbol of our culture and, therefore, has to be owned and protected by the people. True to our art tradition, Project 365 will encourage public participation and create a locally placed permanent space to exhibit these valuable, individual copyrighted historic images for public access and use.  EtP plans to partner with local government / other agencies / museums to permanently showcase the priceless document of the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle.

The first phase of this public photographic art Project 365 is organized at Tiruvananamalai, a south Indian heritage town in Tamil Nadu.

<to be continued>


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