Photography, the hill and a sage

PICTURE CARDS FROM THE AGNI SHYLAM

Human settlements have the nature of endorsing ‘enduring images’, for their self representation and identity. These images originate from the historical association of the town / city with a legendary personality, a monument or an episode. Over the period of time, these images start asserting their influence over the city itself and a day comes when the people start recognizing the city with the particular imagery. Tiiruvannamalai, an ancient temple town at the foot of Arunachala Hill is one such classic case of photographic images taking over the identity of the city. 

Image (C) Eliot Elisofon / 1949 / Image courtesy TIME magazine
Arunachala Hill / Image (C) Eliot Elisofon / 1949 / Image courtesy TIME magazine

Tiruvannamalai has attracted several creative people since the Sangam period. The first recorded history of the town dates back to the ninth century CE, as seen from Chola inscriptions in the Arunachaleshwara temple which states that the present masonry structure of the ancient temple was built during the same period by the Chola Dynasty (from 850 CE to 1280 CE). The temple, one of the largest in India, is rich in tradition, history and festivals. Every month during full moon, several thousand pilgrims perambulate around the Arunachala Hill. Karthikai Deepam is the most popular festival of Tiruvannamalai and inscriptions indicate that the festival was celebrated as early as the Chola period (3rd to 13th century BCE).

Image (C) GG welling  1948 / Ramana Ashram Archives
Arunachaleshwar temple / Image (C) GG welling 1948
Image (C) Eliot Elisofon 1949 / Image courtesy TIME magazine
Arunachaleshwar temple / Image (C) Eliot Elisofon 1949 / Image courtesy TIME magazine
Image (C) Henri cartier-bresson 1948 / Image courtesy MAGNUM
Sadhu / Image (C) Henri cartier-bresson 1948 / Image courtesy MAGNUM
Image (C) Eliot Elisofon / 1949 / Image courtesy TIME magazine
Local temple / Image (C) Eliot Elisofon / 1949 / Image courtesy TIME magazine

Apart from the Cholas, Tiruvannamalai was ruled by the Pallavas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Carnatic kingdom, Tipu Sultan and the British. The architecture and art created collectively by the artists’ guilds of yesteryears with the patronage of the perennially warring, but ever culturally united rulers, stand as a museum of our culture and art. Hundred years old Christian churches, several mosques and Jain temple etc., adorn this ancient town. The various religious and ethnic groups have settled around the Hill and their life, livelihood and lifestyle is very much centered on the Hill.

Singa kulam / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Singa kulam / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2012 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Local deity / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Local deity / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2014 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
ALC / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
ALC / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2013 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Sufi Darga / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Sufi Darga / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Narikurava / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Narikurava / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2014 / Image courtesy EtP Archives

The town is politically active and the presence / activities of the different parties are visible from the different public sculptures, flags, images, symbols and signs.

Dr. Ambedkar / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Dr. Ambedkar / Image 2014 (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Periyar / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Periyar / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2012 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Untitled / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
‘Untitled’ / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2014 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Kamaraj Nadar / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Kamaraj Nadar / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2012 / Image courtesy EtP Archives

Movie and cinema is probably the most common pass time in the town and there are quite a few theaters.

Cinema Paradiso / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
Cinema Paradiso / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2014 / Image courtesy EtP Archives

ICON of the ancient town

Image (C) PRS Mani / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
Sri Ramana Maharishi / Image (C) PRS Mani / Image courtesy Ramana Ashram Archives

Sri Ramana Maharishi, born Venkatrama Iyer came to Tiruvannamalai on 1st September 1896. He was born in Tiruchuzhi, Madurai in the year 1878. In his 17th year, a remarkable experience as if undergoing death of the physical body while remaining in full consciousness became the turning point in his life. Following the transformation, he left his home and was drawn irresistibly to the sacred hill of Arunachala. He never left the hill. In the ashram which was formed around him, he taught the purest form of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) through the supremely simple discipline of Self -Enquiry.

Earliest known photograph of Ramana Maharishi 1908 / photographer unknown
Earliest known photograph of Ramana Maharishi 1908 / photographer unknown

Ramana Maharishi’s creative consciousness also included art forms including photography. When photography was introduced in India, word spread about the camera’s almost magical abilities to create images, something that has so far been attributed to the gods and the it was celebrated as a miracle. The immediate belief and reaction was a fear factor that ‘photographs can steal a person’s soul’. Not many a saints and believers were coming forward to be photographed.

Probabaly, Ramana’s knowledge of ‘light’ and the ‘alchemy’ behind the original photography process is the reason for his interest in this new medium. He understood the versatility of the medium, its possibilities as a historical document as well as the aesthetical dimension of the images. He would invite photographers from different parts of the country and engage in lively dialogues with them to create living images of a time gone by. Indian photographers PRS Mani, Dr.T.N. Krishnaswamy,  G Govind Welling have created several images of Ramana Maharishi, the ashram and the town. Several acclaimed International photographers including iconic French Photographer Henri Cartier-bresson, American documentary photographer Eliot Elisofon took several images of Sri Ramana Maharishi and Tiruvannamalai. These images were printed in several International magazines and newspapers including the TIME, Magnum etc.,  The wide publicity received through these publications is one of the important reason for the town to have become internationally renowned. Ramana urged the preservation of these images and an invaluable few Ramana and Ashram related images of the eminents’ is now being archived and preserved by Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai.

Image (C) GG Welling / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
Sri Ramana Maharishi / Image (C) GG Welling / Image courtesy Ramana Ashram Archives
Image (C) Henri cartier-bresson 1948 / Image courtesy MAGNUM
Sri Ramana Maharishi / Image (C) Henri cartier-bresson 1948 / Image courtesy MAGNUM
Image (C) Dr. T N Krishnaswamy / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
Image (C) Dr. T N Krishnaswamy / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
Image (C) Dr. T N Krishnaswamy / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
Sri Ramana Maharishi / Image (C) Dr. T N Krishnaswamy / Image courtesy Ramana Ashram Archives
Image (C) Dr. T N Krishnaswamy / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
Sri Ramana Maharishi / Image (C) Dr. T N Krishnaswamy / Image courtesy Ramana Ashram Archives

Tamils worship visuals on an everyday basis. This innate nature to worship visuals also extended to include photographs of Ramana. Several thousand copies of Ramana’s portraits are circulated and worshiped. The earliest known photograph of Ramana was taken in the year 1902 (photographer unknown). The most famous is the ‘Mani bust’ taken by PRS Mani. Evidently, the town has grown to be inseparably associated with Saint Ramana.

'Mani bust' / Image (C) PRS Mani / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives
‘Mani bust’ / Image (C) PRS Mani / Image courtesy Sri Ramana Ashram Archives

Contemporary photographic imagery of ‘Maha Rishi’ Ramana

Thus, the town is abundant with images of Ramana. Many known and unknown contemporary photographers have created huge bodies of photography works of Tiruvannamalai. The floating tourists also makes countless snapshots of the reminiscence of Ramana, the hill and the town. EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photogaphy) has a huge collection of photographs of contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad.

"Images of Ramana" / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
“Images of Ramana” / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2013 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
The black statue  / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
The black statue / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2013 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
"Images of Ramana" / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
“Images of Ramana” / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2014 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
"Images of Ramana" / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
“Images of Ramana” / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2013 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
"Images of Ramana" / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
“Images of Ramana” / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2012 / Image courtesy EtP Archives
"Images of Ramana" / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
“Images of Ramana” / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad  2012/ Image courtesy EtP Archives
"Images of Ramana" / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy EtP Archives
“Images of Ramana” / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2014 / Image courtesy EtP Archives

“A different perspective altogether”

ANURAG SHARMA, Project 365 photographer will be documenting Tiruvannamalai town by depicting the ‘Imagery of Maharishi Ramana’. How Ramana’s images have occupied the place in the town, how is that the town is consuming his  images and how the images are floating in the space. To Anurag, the placement of Ramana’s images will depict the sentiment and icon of the town. At the outset, there appears to be a philosophical dichotomy – a saint who negated all the images of the existing world to realize ‘Self’, becoming the icon of the town. However, one feels the lingering presence of Ramana and find solace through these enduring images.

From Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi, Anurag has come a long way as a photographer, with his very own, very unique way of looking at places. He sees the power of an ‘invisible city’ almost everywhere. He not only observes city structures and urban spaces, but also envisions them as construction sites constantly in a process of metamorphosis. He sees cities devoid of people, which is reflected most poignantly in his marvellous photography. He very interestingly sees a potential ‘image’ everywhere he looks around.

What Anurag finds most captivating are scenes that are non-consequential, scenes that can easily be overlooked, but these are the very scenes that have the power to translate themselves into significant testimonials of urban spaces.

Anurag’s first camera was the Cosina C1s, which he bought incidentally when he was on his honeymoon and with that as a start, he went on to experiment, explore and learn more and more. He now undertakes professional photography assignments for prominent Indian and International companies specializing in ‘Industrial and Urban photography’.

He has made several contributions to Art and Deal magazine and a few other online platforms too, as a photo artist. His works have been exhibited in several galleries, fairs and festivals in Mumbai and New Delhi. One of his exhibitions was at the Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi (‘Parallel cities’ organized by Pro Helvetia – Swiss Art Council). Another moment of pride for Anurag was when his work was on display at the ‘Indian Art Festival’, Mumbai.

PICTURE CARDS FROM THE AGNI SHYLAM

Anurag will be presenting ‘these images of Ramana’ in the form of post [PICTURE] cards. Anurag says, “Postcards are universal vehicle to depict the ‘imagery of a city’ used traditionally by visitors as proof documents of their visit or to convey their messages to distant friends and family members. But one thing for sure, postcards travel. I was interested in their basic nature of ‘travel’ and decided to make post cards out of imagery of Bhagwan Ramana Mahirishi from Agni Shylam”.

"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
"Imagery of Maharishi Ramana" / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives
“Imagery of Maharishi Ramana” / Image (C) Anurag Sharma / Image courtesy Project 365 public archives

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to EtP Archives. The profile of Anurag Sharma is written by Ami Gupta / EtP.

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

 

Photography and Beyond

YEAR-LONG EXHIBITION SERIES

Photography, has now become an all pervading medium and has replaced ‘memory’ to a large extent. Artists predominantly use and refer photographs for their art works. In performance art and other site specific art events, most often still and movie images alone remain as a memory and evidence of the event. These photographs of art works become art by in itself, viewed and interpreted in accordance to the onlooker.

EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photography) has organised this year-long exhibition series at Kalai Illam, the village space for art established at Tiruvannamalai. EtP intends to unearth the profound connection between photography and other art forms. EtP has initiated this non-commercial exhibition series to showcase contemporary art among the resident rural Indian population and the floating urban and international tourists who frequent this town.

The first of the series was a solo show of Ganeshbabu Chembayil titled ‘on THE ROAD’ and was open for public from 15th June till 3rd August 2014.

“on THE ROAD”

on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

In this unique work, Ganeshbabu expressed his own journey and memories mixing photographs, texts, drawings etc., directly applied on the 1500 sq.ft wall space at ‘kalai Illam’. This non-commercial ‘auto-portrait of an artist’ challenges the current art market norms and its practices. The show was inaugurated by noted Tamil short story writer Sri BavaChellathurai; Sri J. Jayaraman, Librarian, Sri Ramana Ashram; Sri Kulanthaivel, Vice Chairman, EtP; Smt. Shylaja Chellathurai, Publisher, Vamsi Books; and Sri Wendel Field, American artist who lives in Tiruvannamalai for the past 14 years. The show was open for public till 3rd August 2014.

A BRIEF ABOUT THE ARTIST

on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives

Ganeshbabu Chembayil is a self-taught artist from South India. He lives between India and France. He draws from the recollection of images from his own experiences. He finds it more challenging and exhilarating a task as it involves extracting beauty from reality. Art for him is far from academic enterprise. He says, “Due to its ability to express every sensation of beatitude and sweetness or ugliness and bitterness, art shares a borderline with poetry, music and human history. I think artists who tread on long strides to distant horizon, play the music of Life. An artist can imitate a horizontal line and an ascending or descending vertical line, without losing its breath, or plunge steeply down to hell with velocity……., and that can make a series of superimposed angles”.

IMAGES FROM ‘on THE ROAD’

on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

R E A L I T Y in 40 D A Z E

Commentary on ‘on THE ROAD’ show BY J JAYARAMAN

J Jayaraman, Librarian, Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai, and Project 365 photographer, had been observing the work of Ganeshbabu Chembayil since the start of the artist’s yajna: “on THE ROAD”, and his inspired comments are below:

This would be a ‘real-time commentary’ on the ma-chic-all “gam” passage through this amazing artist’s providential 40-day [jai-simha Lent!] to EtP Archives.

“Walking into EtP’s Kalai Illam’s central hall but a few months ago, I  bumped into this Indian artist relocated from France. And froze in Tiruvannamalai.  At first glance, that day at the central hall… which till the day earlier had sported an august bareness of pellucid white walls. In short, I wondered if I saw Ganeshbabu-ji intent on a boxed-in mass ack-err?

But then it didn’t take long for the musician in the artist in me,

To resonate with the wise “Vice ‘ware’ ” e’er I’d see

Ganeshji’s artistry in an overture played out in deft strokes of a ‘conduit’ terra free

You’ll agree as we

Walk through Chembayil you as I could see…..

A ‘vaak’ [speech] through an artist doing the Blues in many a bold  bar.
It is a popular misconception that the Cartesian dicta  “cogito ergo sum” are

Meant to mean: “I think I know

“My self as thought; and so

I exist only by virtue of

The occurrence of a thinking ‘op’! ” ?

Nop(e), and I hasten to explain correctly [according to me], Descartes  meant “I cogitate, I brood upon, I con-template self in images. I question. I stand apart as the QUEST’shunner. Therefore I AM [be-ing is] the background”.

A theme more logically says “cogitating” is king to ‘thinking’ a mere vassal.

Ganeshbabu’s tapestry of boxed in images weaves a magic of time past and ahead, revisited in a deja vu that spoke to me:

[1]

“I am the Sabha, the hall that holds

The Image. The Being, a sabhaaShe unfolds

Itself the witnessing.

The Peace as blessing

ItsSelf blissing”.

A perambulation of the ” ‘Kurukshetra” [doership-field] a few days later revealed

the folloWing flashes of fLight…..

What do we see?

In-sigh’t spree!

Dr. Richard Harris’ Adult and Parent and Child ack’hey?’types (defined through his classic “I’m OK You’re OK” of the 1960s) peep out through every ‘adult’ zoOm; a few are quoted below .

[3]

“Pleasure [activity of thought: vritti] is dictated solely by the presence of desire.”
“sah akaamayata: “ekah aham; bahusyaama!” = THAT [transcendence] DESIRED: “I am one; [= and so, to ‘become’ MANY, let me find out what could be there at all capable, of being desired and attainable <itals follow>a priori, given MY unique circum-stance! ] [thus in endemic lila…] ” I ‘become’ MAN’eye’ !” °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

[4]

“Beware of the Image”
The mind is the camera.
With calm-era mind =the 1st phenomenon,
The capture of no’icing’ is prime here! The signal-noise tossup between fore and back ground witnessed’.

And then interpreted without angst‘d dead doubt….

“Not all madness is of artistic interest.”

[5]

“To Love is but the desire to be loved.”
That sounded deep indeed.
But the response from the wizened ‘in’ to the same from the road ahead was:
To receive love on another’s terms is but the (ab initio and preeminently cached), desire to be loved back likewise.

[7]

“No body can [intend to] dress innocently.”

[8]

Apropos the Boar ‘Star’ avataar at traffic junkshuns….

“Vaaraaha waa(r) indha whirled-ai kaa?” (tam. = Varaaha avatar do manifest to ease trafficKing jam?)

[9]

“adhyaa-‘rope’ apavaada” does point to the retraction [= apavaada], of the snake-error superimposed “[“falsely seen as true”= “adhyaaropa”] in place of a rope actually ‘there’.

I congratulate my friend and fellow artist Ganesh on his firm laconic confident presentation of nature in Her spatial and temporal cyclic curves, and by jove the mystic insides calm’moun’ to all.

“Such a journey transforms the earth into a ‘mine’ of gold.”

Ekalokam Trust’s project under their PHOTOGRAPHY & BEYOND series, to release miniature sketch note-books punctuated by a selection of photos serving various themes,  now with ON THE ROAD, kicks off reverberating from Arunachala “sonagiri” the hill of gold.

Auvoir ‘on THE ROAD’

The show was concluded on 3rd August and this opening show of the year-long exhibition series ‘Photography and beyond’ was viewed and enjoyed by several people. The success of the show is in the level of enjoyment the rural audience had… the sounds of children running around the small rooms of Kalai Illam shouting, “this is my favorite…” , “Look, this is what I like…” continue to linger. There have been visitors who were amazed at the first sight and then spent hours looking and re-looking the paintings, enjoying and grasping every bit of the story the painting had to reveal.  One elderly visitor became quite silent… and stirring after two hours, whispered to us, “I am now flooded with memories of my own journey… I remember my childhood…..it is as if the artist has peeped into my own past and has created these paintings…”. 

Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

On 4th August 2014, the painted walls were washed off…. However, these walls continue to proudly hold the heartening memories and life experiences artistically shared by the artist Ganeshbabu Chembayil…. The journey of Ganeshbabu chembayil from a remote village in Kerala to our ancient town, traversing several places, countries, embracing memorable happy and sad moments has now become a hidden part of these walls…

Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

Not only the walls and our beloved art lovers, the photographs made of the show will also keep the memory of this unique exhibition alive…  EtP has extensively documented the paintings. Chennai based Project 365 photographer Panneer Selvam helped EtP to photo-document the entire show. Ganeshbabu chembayil plans to continue the ‘on THE ROAD’ show by further working on the photographs of the paintings… EtP plans to publish a book. In all likelihood, these fragments from ‘on THE ROAD’ show will be exhibited in other parts of our country… 

on THE ROAD continue to remain alive due to the photographs. This is the beauty, strength and profundity of the photography medium. 

Thank you. 

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to EtP Archives. 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

Ganesh Chaturthi / Birthday of Ganesh 2014

Ganesha Chaturthi  is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the Indian mythical god Ganesh (also called as Ganapathy, Pillayar, Vinayakar etc.,), the elephant-headed, the son of Parvati and Shiva, remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings and wisdom. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the moon Calender month of Bhaadrapada starting on the shukla chaturthi  (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

Project 365 Director Abul Kalam Azad and photographers Arnav Rastogi, Bhagyashri Patki, Leo James and Shiv Kiran have been documenting the happenings of this important South Indian Festival ‘Ganapathi Chaturthi 2014’ in Tiruvannamalai.

DAY ONE

The festival mood was felt even before a week. On the first day, many traditional clay artisans had created temporary stalls around the town, with huge lumps of clay, Ganesha moulds and PoP (Plaster of Paris).

Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo James
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014
Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo James
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014

Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo James

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

The huge Ganapathi sculptures were carried from one place to another using different vehicles – jeep, bullock carts, motor bikes etc., Almost every street had  images of Ganesha installed and decorated in public pandals (temporary shrines).

VinayakaGanesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo Jamesr Chathurthi Day 1 / Instagram Image © Leo James
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014
Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

The market was flooded with fruits and flowers to be offered to Lord Ganesha. Special umbrellas and decoration items made the local market colorful.

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014

In homes, pillayar idols are decorated with Bermuda grass known as arukampul (அருகம்புல் )and Modak, ladoo and other dishes are offered. The favorite food items of Vinayakar, including aval (rice flakes), pori (pop rice), kadalai (roasted chickpea) are distributed to the neighborhood families as part of the celebration.

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

ORIGIN

Though the actual origin of the festival is unknown, according to the legend, the festival marks the auspicious day of the birth of Lord Ganesha. The story goes as follows- Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of resolution, was away from Kailash due to some work. As Parvati was alone at home, she felt the necessity of some one to guard the door to her house while she took bath. When she did not get any one, she conceived of the idea of creating a son who could guard her. She then created Ganesha out of her sandalwood paste and breathed life into the idol. She then asked him to stand on the gate and do not let any body enter until she came out. Unfortunately, Shiva returned home in the meantime. As, Ganesha did recognize him, he stopped Shiva from entering as per his mother’s advice. This badly enraged Lord Shiva, who cut off Ganesha’s head by his trident. When Parvati saw beheaded Ganesha, took on the form of the Goddess Kali and threatened to destruct all the three worlds. The earth, the heaven, the nether world, all was shaken and every body ran to Shiva for solution. In order to appease Lord Parvati and save the world from destruction, Lord Shiva sent out his followers to find a child whose mother is facing another direction in negligence, cut off his head and bring it quickly. The first such child that came in the eyes of the Shiva followers was an elephant, so they brought the head of this elephant and Shiva placed it on the trunk of Parvati’s son and gave life into him. Parvati was the overwhelmed with happiness and embraced her son. They named her Ganesha i.e the Lord of all Ganas (followers).

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

The festival is celebrated as a public event since the days of Shivaji 1630–1680). However, the present kind of celebrations of Ganesha Chaturthi came in fashion in 1893, Lokmanya Tilak, an Indian freedom fighter and social reformer reshaped the annual Ganesh festival from a private family celebration into a community event. The day was conceived to be the National Festival in order to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins in the society. Tilak chose this festival for this purpose because Lord Ganesh was considered to be the ‘ God of Every man’. It then served as a meeting ground for people of all community and religion on a public platform. Since then the festival has served its cause of existence. Even now people irrespective of caste and community barriers celebrate this festival with great joy.

DAY TWO

During the second day, the eyes of the Ganesh are opened and it is believed that Ganesha shower his blessing upon the world on this auspicious day. Poojas are conducted at home as well to commemorate the birth of Ganesha.

Vinayakar Chathurthi Day 1 / Instagram Image © Arnav Rastogi
Vinayakar Chathurthi Day 1 / Image © Arnav Rastogi 2014
Vinayakar Chathurthi Day 1 / Instagram Image © Leo James
Vinayakar Chathurthi / Instagram Image © Leo James 2014

LORD GANESHA – “THE MYTHICAL CHILD OF EVERYBODY”

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki 2014

Sculptures of Ganesh has been created all over the world and probably is one of the most common art form. Off late Ganesha comes in different shapes and forms. Children enjoy and fancy this “god of all” and their enjoyment known no bound. They often spend their time around the installed pandals and prefer sleeping outside guarding their ‘Pillai Yar’.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014

DAY THREE

The third day, the Vinayakar idols were taken in a procession to nearby lakes and water bodies. Most of the idols are taken to the Lotus pond where it immersed, whilst the gathered chant ganesha hymns.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturth / Instagram image (C) Bhagyshri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi 2014

The ancient practice in contemporary times

Originally Ganesh idols were made of clay and worshipped with different variety of herbal leaves, plants and immersed at the end of the festival in a water (lake) along with the Idol. The herbal and medicated plants, leaves and the clay would purify the lake water. Those times, people used to drink lake water, and to protect people from infections and viral diseases especially in this season, this tradition was introduced. Since the festival is celebrated as a public event since the days of Shivaji, (1630–1680), the popularity of the festival became very high and clay idols became unaffordable due to the huge demand. The use of PoP became the practice which is not at all an environment friendly approach. The original purpose is somehow thwarted.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi 2014

After the ceremony and immersion of the idols, a separate team of volunteers strive to clean the pond, collect the left over bamboos and temporary structures.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014

Kannan, a local person is coming out of the now PoP filled dirty ‘Lotus pond’ where Idols of Ganesh were immersed, no longer a source of drinking water. The joy and celebration of the ancient practice is much welcome, however, the incredible original vision of purifying and valuing our water bodies has taken its own course. In contemporary times, one is left with the responsibility to re-define these practices in the current context to create a harmonious Earth for our future generation.

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to Project 365 PUBLIC archives. 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 – SAMARAMBAM

15th August 2014

Project 365 began on 15th August 2014 at Kalai Illam, Tiruvannamalai. Project 365 Director Abul Kalam Azad inaugurated the project by lighting the lamp. Project 365 photographers Bhagyashri Patki, Panneer Selvam, J Jayaraman and Ami Gupta lighted the lamp.

Director Abul Kalam Azad lighting lamp / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Director Abul Kalam Azad lighting lamp; Photographers Yannick Cormier and Iqbal MK / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

 

Project 365 photographer Bhagyashri Patki lighting lamp;  Behind Photographer Iqbal MK and Manager Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographer Bhagyashri Patki lighting lamp; Behind Photographer Iqbal MK and Manager Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

Project 365 manager Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi welcomed the gathering. The team proceeded to discuss and collectively evolve the Project 365 MoU. Photographers Anurag Sharma, Ami Gupta, Seema Krishnakumar, J Jayaraman, Sudha Shunmugam, Varun Gupta, Iqbal MK, Maveeran Somasundaram, Panneer Selvam, Leo James, Bhaygashri Patki, Jiby Charles, Shiv Kiran, Arnav Rastogi and Bharathiaraja were present. Leading photographer Yannick Carmier was also present during the Samarambam. PRoject 365 ART co-ordinator and camp officer Ganeshbabu Chembayil was also present during the Samarambam. 

The Team during the Samarambam /  (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
The Team during the Samarambam / (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Anurag Sharma and Seema Krishnakumar during the Samarambam / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Anurag Sharma and Seema Krishnakumar during the Samarambam / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
EtP gifting signed Miniature Photography notebooks to the Team /  Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
EtP gifting signed Miniature Photography notebooks to the Team / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Director AKA addressing the Team / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Director AKA addressing the Team / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

Leading playback singer and music composer dedicated a song to the gathered Project 365 photographers.

Popular playback singer and music composer Shahabaz Aman during the Samarambam / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Popular playback singer and music composer Shahabaz Aman during the Samarambam / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

The evening gathering was organised at Project 365 camp, Tiruvannamalai. The team presented their earlier works and proposed Project 365 concept. The public who had gathered also enjoyed this presentation. 

Photographer JJ presenting to the team and public / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Photographer JJ presenting to the team and public / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Photographer Varun Gupta  presenting to the team and public / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Photographer Varun Gupta presenting to the team and public / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Samarambam - presentation by 365 team / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Samarambam – presentation by 365 team / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

The open air performance and dinner had to quickly re-arranged inside the camp house due to the sudden down pour. Although it did change the original plan, the rain to the dry Agni Shylam is indeed a grand blessing and it is an honor to begin Project 365 amidst the showers.

 

The team and public during the presentation /  Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
The team and public during the presentation / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

The small space added to the intimate feeling of the Gazal night with Shahabaz Aman and the performance lasted about an hour. Noted Tamil short story writer Bava Chelladurai was present and interacted with the Project 365 photographers.

Gazal night with popular playback singer and music compower Shahabaz Aman during the Samarambam / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Gazal night with popular playback singer and music compower Shahabaz Aman during the Samarambam / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

The year-long PUBLIC PHOTO ART project is well begun. Thank you !!!

Project 365 Team

“Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365.”

Project 365 EtP Team

Abul Kalam Azad – Project Director; Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi – Project Manager; Ganeshbabu Chembayil – Coordinator & Camp officer; George Augustine Thundiparambil – Editor in Chief

Project 365 Photographers

The town will be documented by leading contemporary photographers Sri Aditya Arya, Sri Alex Fernandes, Sri Dinesh Khanna, Sri Pa. Madhavan, Sri Ram Rahman, Sri Ramesh Varma, Sri Ramu Aravindan, Sri Sadanand Menon, Sri R.R. Srinivasan, Sri Thierry Cardon, Sri Waswo X. Waswo, Sri Yannick Cormier and twenty five upcoming photographers Ami Gupta, Anirudh Goel, Anjali Gopan, Anurag Sharma, Arnav Rastogi, BhagyashriPatki, Bharathiaraja R, Iqbal MK, J. Jayaraman, Jiby Charles, Leo James, MaveeranSomasundaram, PaneerSelvam, Pee Vee, Priyanka Kaur Oberoi, Ritesh R Uttamchandani, SeemaKrishnakumar, Selva Prakash Lakshmanan, Senthil Kumaran Rajendran, Shiv K, Sudha Shanmugam, Thiagarajan R, Udit Kulshrestha, Varun Gupta and Vinay DV over a one-year period.This will be conducted over a year-long period using diversified traditional analog and modern mediums, techniques, processes and mixed media approaches.

Topics

Urbanization, living spaces, mystical life of shepherds, Saiva tradition, Jainism, Sufism, Gender in Tamil culture, life in inner and outer path, ethnic lifestyle, life of ten working women, wildlife, the Hill, temples and shrines, caves and herbs, contemplating saints and wandering sadhus, life of children, ancient poems and contemporary life style, ancient and contemporary fashion, rituals and festivals, agriculture and farming; displacement; mythological concept of Agni; 365 nights and days in Tiruvannamalai; the inter-relation between religion, politics and cinema; home-makers, portraits of 15 prominent people of Tiruvannamalai and so on.

Networking partners

EtP has networked with “SPACES”, Chennai; “Aksgar” online magazine;“Goa-CAP”; “India Photo Archive”, Gurgaon; “Vamsi Books”, Tiruvannamalai; “Thalam”, Bangalore; “Kannadi”, Madurai; and Vetri digitals, Tiruvannamalai.

<to be continued>

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>