Based in: Kerala
I am a visual artist based in South India. My works are largely expressions of my personal memories, explorations and experiences. They deal with issues of culture, identity, ethics, micro/macro history, and eroticism. I am particularly interested in experimental and art photography. It was my father, Haneef Rahman, who instilled my interest in photography at a very young age. A majority of my photographs from the 80s and early 90s were from my native land of Kerala, India. Creating visuals of the familiar people and surroundings fascinated me. I started photographing my friends and creative people from the neighborhood, my town, and its architecture. These photographs offer a glimpse into the landscape of Mattanchery before it became a cultural hub and venue of Kochi Muziris Biennale. In the 80s, I started exploring different parts of India. Like a restless river, I was always on the move - seeking a distant destination and photographing the memories of those long journeys. During the early 90s, for over a brief period, I worked as a photo-journalist with news agencies and periodicals in India and abroad, During the mid-90s, with the support of different scholarships, I traveled to Europe for higher studies in photography and print-making. Returning to India in 1996, I started practicing photography as an independent visual artist and accelerated my efforts in experimental and art photography. Between 2000 and 2010, Indian photography saw a shift from analog to digital. Reluctant to take a complete swing, but at the same time trying to keep up with the technological advancements, I started making hybrid photographic prints, amalgamating digital and analog medium. The focus on history, religion, politics and other recurring themes only become stronger, connecting with each other and emerging as a total worldview that I consciously put forward. Adding layers to photographic prints by reusing earlier works/found prints, amalgamating traditional and modern photography, doodling, stitching, scratching, sequencing and hand painting make regular appearances, a definitive presence in my photographic aesthetics and language. A majority of works that I did since 2010, are monochrome. These are minimalistic and in stark contrast to my earlier multi-media experimental works. Starting in 2014, I am working with different new media, such as smartphone photography, lo-fi digital. At the same time, I continue to use large format view cameras as well as other traditional cameras. The zig-zagging from one style/approach to another is intentional. It reflects a particular phase in my life and artistic expression. The thematic continuity is also a conscious choice, with history, sexuality, eroticism, anthropology and culture being present, and provacating each other. My current projects primarily focus on a search inside South-Indian pre historic cultures and base themselves on ancient literature, folklore, and rituals. I have always been interested in regional initiatives and was part of several arts and cultural projects in South India. In 2012, I co-founded Ekalokam Trust for Photography, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to protecting and promoting contemporary photography and allied art forms. I am also Editor-in-Chief of PhotoMail, an online photo-art magazine.
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