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A Homage To Bygone Era By A Kerala Photographer

He believes that a monochrome portrait always reveals something about the people in it, their experiences, and perhaps open windows to their double lives

K.R. Boney is a photographer based in Kochi and he has utilized ‘Lokame Tharavadu’ a contemporary art show, currently on, here at multiple heritage venues to walk into the history to find out the yesteryears’ members of his ‘tribe’, especially the studio photographer, presently, a near-forgotten lot, with the influx of technology.

Boney, through a set of portraits, currently being exhibited at the art show has tried to document the lives of studio photographers known to him.

He describes his attempt to bring out those yesteryear photographers who preferred to remain anonymous with one skewed eye behind the viewfinder, waiting all their lives for the perfect frame and right amount of light.

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Incidentally, Boney himself comes from a family of photographers, 27 in total, he says with a chuckle.

His father K.R. Antony, who established a studio around 70 years ago in Kochi, had five brothers and three of them are photographers.

“The people I have documented for the show have all retired. Some of them are not in this world anymore,” says Boney, who conceptualized it as a tribute to a bygone era.

Along with their portraits at the art show, one can also catch a glimpse of the equipment they used – a Yashica, Mamiya C330, or Vivitar V3000.

Photographer
The landscapes were shot by him on a 4×5 black and white negatives and then hand-painted. IANS

Boney, who cut his teeth in the ‘dark room’ school is also a master trainer for many when it comes to analog photography.

Two of his disciples Anu John David from Kollam and Shaji N. Jaleel from Fort Kochi are also participating artists in the Lokame Tharavadu show.

“It was Boney who taught me the art of reverse coloring,” says David, who has displayed 16 hand-painted negatives photographed using a Vageeswari camera, which is intrinsically linked to the history of Alappuzha.

The Vageeswari camera, which was once in high demand, was designed and manufactured by K. Karunakaran, an Alappuzha-based technician, who was trained in repairing musical instruments.

The Vageeswari, is a large format wooden camera with a teak frame that ruled the world of field cameras until the 1980s, says David.

The landscapes were shot by him on a 4×5 black and white negatives and then hand-painted.

“Places are different, to different people. This work is an attempt to articulate this opinion of Alappuzha through my craft,” said David.

Jaleel has displayed a series of black and white photographs as an assemblage.

“As a photographer, I’m in love with monochrome, and it’s the seemingly simple aesthetic of light and darkness,” said Jaleel.

He believes that a monochrome portrait always reveals something about the people in it, their experiences, and perhaps open windows to their double lives.

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“I am also in love with people around me, men and women who struggle to earn their livelihoods, working as fishers, coconut climbers, and grocers. The intricate patterns of everyday objects also interest me along with children, who love shades and secretive places,” said Jaleel.

The show curated by artist and Kochi Biennale Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari features the works of 267 artists who trace their roots to Kerala and by scale is considered to be the biggest art event to be held in India.

The individual artworks number well over 3000, presenting a unique opportunity for art enthusiasts and connoisseurs to experience the richness and diversity of art practiced by contemporary Malayali artists. (IANS/KB)

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