Through a series of nine images and a slide show in his latest exhibition, View from Conolly’s Plot, Bangalore-based artist Anup Mathew Thomas has tried to weave together a picture of contemporary Kerala, his home state.
View from Conolly’s plot
Part of his ongoing project on Kerala, each of the photographs in the exhibition, taken over three years, depicts events, structures, people and even images from television programmes that are in different ways a comment on the characteristics that make up the state. In his artist statement, the 32-year-old artist provides a descriptive note on each of the images.
Bar, Hotel Arcadia, Kottayam
View from Conolly’s Plot, the piece from which the exhibition takes its name, is the image of a hanging bridge, captured possibly as the artist stands amid what remains of a teak plantation. The plantation, Thomas mentions, was the first teak plantation in the world and was set up by Henry Valentine Conolly who was the district magistrate and then the collector of British Malabar.
Born in Kochi, Thomas graduated from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore in 2003 and has stayed largely with photographs as his medium of choice. “I don’t see my practice as photography as much as working with images. Sometimes it’s not even about photography; for instance, one of the works in this exhibition consists of images that I haven’t photographed myself. These are images that I have sourced from a television channel. The relationship between photography and art is not something I am concerned with while making work,” he says, not willing to allow his art to be limited by the medium he works with.
Kerala is where Thomas was born, and where he spent a large part of his childhood. But did the mystique grow with the outsider view that he gets as a non-resident? All he says is: “Whatever my position may be, it’s simply an attempt to engage with the place and in the process you end up understanding and studying the place more widely and indepth.” Having said that, the artist does point out that not all of his work is on Kerala.
View From Conolly’s Plot is on view till 23 April at Galleryske, St Mark’s Road, Bangalore.