‘Comrade’ Krishna Pillai

'Comrade' / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad  2004 / 30"x40" C type prints

‘Comrade’ / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad 2004 / 30″x40″ / C type prints

This photograph is from my series called ‘Untouchables’. In this series, I had used the scanned images of the found analog photographs from my family album and manipulated it in the digital format. Those days, family albums were not merely photographs of one’s family alone. The family album is indeed a clear presentation of the family’s whole life, interests and political views… a collection of  photographs of our leaders, the heroes of the land, the gurus, the favorite cine starts etc., become a part of this valuable family treasure. During early 2000, I had returned to my home town in Mattancheryy, Cochin, from a decade of sojourn in North India, London, Paris etc.,.  The nomadic way of living had created an earnest desire to get back to my roots… I craved for familiar surroundings. That’s why immediately upon my return, I created a body of work titled ‘Black mother – Heroine of Silpattikaram’. I had used up most of the reserve film negatives for this series and was not getting access to films in Cochin. Even though I had exposure to digital technology starting early 1990s and had been specially trained in Europe, I was still not fascinated to use the digital medium.  The familiar smell and working with chemicals in the darkroom was more captivating for me. To get over this phase of ongoing transformation, I started scanning some of the family albums and reworked on it to create this body of work. In this particular photographic image titled, ‘Comrade Krishnapillai’, I had positioned images of Gandhi, Guru Narayana and the famous poster Stalin E’ Morte (Stalin died). This very famous image of Gandhi standing in front of the British Prime Minister’s house, 10 Downy street was taken before  Indian independence.  Narayana Guru is a Philosopher and Social reformist. In the 1953, when Stalin died, the followers of Trotsky had released this famous poster Stalin E’ Morto.  The upfront iconic portrait is that of Comrade P. Krishna Pillai. Com. P. Krishna Pillai, one of the founder leader of the Communist Movement in Kerala died on 19th August 1948. Krishna Pillai was one among the four persons who formed the first Communist Party group in Kozhikode in 1937. His death came during his underground life due to a snake bite. Exceptional skill for organisation, unflinching communist consciousness, dedication, love for fellow human beings and boldness marked the unique personality of Com. Krishna Pillai.

I am very grateful to the photographers / designers who had taken these iconic images. This is the first time I had used photographs of another photographer for my photographic work. Usually, I am a witness of the event, or portrait, or the building that I am photographing. In this particular series of my work, I am not the witness. Another photographer is the witness, and I use their never faded powerful document. Hence the totally dramatic and fabricated set-up.

27th September 2014


(C) All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of  contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing, For more information call {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405  or mail to ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Abul Kalam Azad 

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