Contemporary Tamil Living Spaces

“Each space tells its own story”

Delhi-based Arnav Rastogi believes that a City’s character is determined by the people who live there. He says, “What better way to depict a person than to explore the things that are very personal to someone? One’s house is such a thing…. From the whole house, I choose to shoot a single room, their ‘living space’. I am always fascinated by the way this one room mean so differently for different people. For some it is just a single room that the family calls home, for others it is a lavish extra space; some living rooms are all about display, showcasing only a few special things, while others have within them everything that is essential to the family that lives there. Spacious or cramped, stuffed with religious artifacts, paintings or crystal knick-knacks, a living room is one of the most important spaces of any home. And each one tells its own little story.” Arnav’s project Contemporary Living Spaces” is an exploration of this human diversity.

His project on living rooms has been published in the Sunday Guardian. He connects with people from different walks of life, visits their homes and captures their lifestyle in a very stark yet subtle manner. These vivid images are a diverse portrayal of his relationship with the common man and of various families and individuals in their comfort zones. These images also speak of the environment we create around ourselves that defines who we are.

Project 365 team photographer Arnav RASTOGI
Project 365 team photographer Arnav RASTOGI

Arnav first experimented with the camera during his college days, and was so hooked that he went on to switch from IT to photography. After his diploma at the Sri Aurobindo Center for Arts and Communication he went on to capture candid and striking images of people and their emotions and also wildlife. He has exhibited at the International Photo Festival organized by Creative Hut held at Ahmedabad in 2011 and is currently a part of a photographer’s collective called Fseven Photographers[1].

Arnav aspires to travel and take his project ‘Living spaces’ across the country and PROJECT 365 – Tiruvannamalai is a wonderful way forward. Within this one month, Arnav has entered the living rooms of many neighbors and friends of EtP and has created lingering images of their personal space. Though he is using the 35mm digital format for shooting, when it comes to printing, he will be experimenting with traditional salt and albumen prints.

Sri Dhavaneri Selvan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Dhavaneri Selvan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Sri Dhanaveri Selvan (middle), a neighbour of EtP at Perumpakkam Road, is an electrical engineer. He has two girl children. His mother (left) also lives with him. His father-in-law Sethu Raman (right) lives behind Dhanaveri’s house.

Arnav fondly says, “Tiruvannamalai is a very spiritual and peaceful place, the people I have come across depict these qualities in their attitude and behaviour. I am very much impressed by the Tamil hospitality and often times I am offered home-made delicious Tamil food, which I greatly enjoy”.

Sri Vishnu Narayan Sthabathi's house / / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Vishnu Narayan Sabhahit house / / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Sri Vishnu Narayan Sabhahit from Sri Ramana Ashram with his wife at his living room.

Sri Raju / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Raju / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Raju moved from Chidambaram and is permanently settled in Tiruvannamalai. He works as an auto driver. He has developed keen interest to appreciate art.

Sri Pallavan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Pallavan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Sri. Pallavan, Arts teacher (Rtd.), Danish Mission School with his family.

Sri Preethi Srinivasan's house / / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Preethi Srinivasan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Arnav says, “I learn and enjoy the many interactions that happen during these shoots. Two weeks back I had gone to shoot the living space of J Jayaraman, PROJECT 365 photographer and a resident of Sri Ramana Ashram. His house had two rooms, a small court-yard and a living room which is also his sleeping space. His space had a specific character… books, music instruments and several other objects were lying all over… inspite of the seeming chaos, there was a peculiar order….   looking at me JJ said, “in the outside world I have to adjust to the traffic around me, here all the traffic adjusts according to me”. I smiled and knew inwardly that I am going to capture one of my most interesting image…

(to be continued)

PROJECT 365 – A PUBLIC COLLECTIVE PHOTO ART PROJECT IS AN INITIATIVE BY EtP TO DOCUMENT THE FAST CHANGING ANCIENT CULTURE AND CONTEMPORARY LIFESTYLE OF SOUTH INDIA. THE FIRST PHASE OF THIS PROJECT IS ORGANISED IN TIRUVANNAMALAI, TAMIL NADU. FORTY PHOTOGRAPHERS FROM ALL OVER INDIA WILL BE USING PREDOMINANTLY ANALOG MEDIUM TO DOCUMENT THE MULTI-CULTURAL ASPECTS OF THIS ANCIENT TOWN. THIS PROJECT IS LED BY CONTEMPORARY INDIAN PHOTOGRAPHER ABUL KALAM AZAD. IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, EtP WILL DOCUMENT THE SANGAM ERA PORT MUZIRIS, TINDIS AND THE ENTIRE CAUVERI DELTE BELT.

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. [1] – Profile of Arnav Rastogi by Ami Gupta. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. If you need more information contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com

Project 365 initiators and partners
Project 365 initiators and partners