As photographer Shibu Arakkal puts it, more than a year after his daughter was born in early 2009, he felt the need to find himself all over again. “Her entry into my life had me thinking about our way of living life and the constant rush,” he says. In May, he visited Bhutan along with an assistant. The photographs that resulted from the trip taken in the hills and forests of Bhutan are now on display in a show titled Passing By. “The title came to be that because in a sense we quite literally passed by Bhutan. In our 12-day journey we were on the move, only stopping every now and then,” says Arakkal, adding that he found the experience slightly paradoxical as he felt Bhutan was frozen in time.
Arakkal’s images concentrate on the foliage and scenery in Bhutan. Explaining his choice, he says: “At heart I am an abstractionist. This is an ensemble piece that has been put together. It’s more fitting of the abstraction part of me. I like leaving the images to people’s interpretation, it’s not worded.” The show’s display has been arranged to give the viewer a sense of things passing by—an image with a sense of blurry motion alternates with one that is static. “This is symbolic of the way we went by Bhutan and in a way the way we go past life. There is that blur of movement and then the static that depicts the hope that most of us stop and think about life,” says the artist.
Most of Arakkal’s works have been shot on digital cameras, but he says he always found them lacking in soul. Passing by Bhutan, he decided to experiment with the most basic of all cameras, a pinhole camera. “I had no control over what the image would turn out like. There were no settings to play with. The camera just has a mind of its own,” he says, justifying why some of his images fit snugly into the genre of being “photo impressionist”. Some digital images have also been shot to achieve the same effect. “ Most images have been clicked without my even looking though the viewfinder,” he says.
Passing By will be on display at Sublime, UB City, Bangalore, till 2 October.