The Innate urge of a Malayalee is migration, shrouded with ideas of a dreamscape Malayalee always step out for their dateless voyages. In my wanders heart, a longing for a transit blossomed from the younger days itself. The unending lanes of railway tracks and the piercing sound of horns, juxtaposed with the rhythmic chuk… chuk… chuk… enthralled me to see the never-ending world. On the train, I always rush to the window, to see all that comes through… Years grown and my lens replaced my eyes but the windows became static. Many more, many times, hoards of images captured and constructed the world I have seen. These are the frozen moments from my isolated travels, for which I am taking a claim. 

*Images from the project are now on display at LOKAME THARAVADU, Port Museum venue in Beach road, Alappuzha, Kerala.
Show curated by Bose Krishnamachari

Through the Glass Darkly

Travelling is a means of liberating curiosities and its history has been marked with diverse objectives. Capturing images during journeys either perfunctorily or with specific attention have been marked in interpretations of artistries, a domain in which photographs are considered imperative since flexibility of the medium has performed as an adept merger of the real and the imaginary. 

As an indefeasible part and invention of the present world, photography has changed visual perceptions and is transforming as a medium both reassuringly and disquietingly. An existing pattern of consumption through such produces of visual reference are often dominated by images captured in fervour and momentary impulse; the memories of experiences that remain as residue long after the occurrence are strengthened through these references often as make-believe accounts or half-truths. Yet these fabrications fill the gaps of amnesia – what one would prefer to remember as truth.

Gireesh GV has been traveling widely since his early days of practice as an artist-photographer, with the act being both a method and a prerequisite for his creative exercises. The journeys by train across the country, has stimulated his imaginative inclination with the never-ending railway tracks, the piercing train whistle and the rapidly changing landscape outside the window. He has documented persistently these swiftly passing frames, which the movement of the vehicle has offered with utmost precision and a belief of ephemeralness.

One never encounters the same setting while on a unidirectional travel on a train, as a photographer a single chance to capture a frame caught his penchant. These photographs shot between 2008 and 2021; offer glimpses of the world, from the train window, where the later function as the frame. Every glimpse of the exterior while being in mobility is unique, since each scenography was as a single chance to decide and capture an image within constricted time.  This feature makes Gireesh GV’s, spontaneous shots, relevant in a context where visual cognition is saturated with swiftly changing images every day.

These photographs are vestiges that represent his approach towards observation; they undo the original experience of being in motion, evoking curiosity as an inverse method of capturing motion and turning them still.  A solitary tree,  a pack of unclaimed luggage,  people in a queue, a glimpse of someone’s courtyard through an opening, all speak of different stories of different people and surroundings.

An extension of these stills cumulatively appear in a video with a series of images changing at a regulated pace. Two complimentary tools, image and sound, with images surfacing and disappearing with the rhythm of a track that is imitative of an audile experience of a locomotive, negotiates between the real and the simulated, providing a certainty of experiential truth and yet drifting away  with each frame. Duration of each image on the screen determined by a subtle balance between time, space and content generates a language distinct from the conventional expression of videos consisting of twenty-four frames per second. In both the expressions, still photographs and the video a commonality of namelessness leaves ones wondering with queries-  what place or incident do they speak of ? What specifics can guide to interpret them other than the aperture that a window of the train allows? The image of hazy glass, the world beyond, and the scratchy surface of the photographs are treated in a manner, which alludes excavating from foggy recollection of unfamiliarity, it departs with inconclusive hints on the exterior –the stories from where they originate will remain a mystery to the viewer.

Text: Avijna Bhattacharya


‘Lokame Tharavadu’ (the world is one family), a contemporary art show featuring 267 Kerala artists, began on Monday 18th April 2021. Show will continue till June 30th

The exhibition would be opened to visitors for four hours in the afternoon from April 20 to 23. Visitors would be able to view the exhibition between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the days.

Entry: The entry to the five venues of ‘Lokame Tharavadu’ is restricted through color tokens. Only 75 tokens will be issued in each venue each day. Children below 10 years, those above 60 years and pregnant women are not allowed.

Venues: Being organized by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, The venues are the Kerala State Coir Corporation, New Model Society Building, Port Museum, Eastern Produce Company Ltd. and William Goodacre and Sons Pvt. Ltd across Alappuzha. Another venue is the Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Kochi.