Friday, May 6, 2011

Soul Survivors

Tattooed faces, women with nose-plugs, men with spears and the brass necklaces of the last living headhunters.

It feels nice to go to a photo-exhibition of a different kind. It also feels good to know that the photographs on display are from a culture that might just be on the cusp of extinction.

With us city-dwellers looking West for inspiration and aping everything of theirs - looks, accent, fashion, even mannerisms, originality is hard to come by. So, this exhibition on the Konyak tribe from Nagaland, the Apatani from Arunachal Pradesh and the Tibetan nomads transports the viewer to another place, another  world.

On at the National Museum on Janpath, Soul Survivors, goes beyond its photographs. It has installations, furniture, vases, handicrafts and artefacts from the tribes of India's North East - and this is what makes it different. It is only food that is missing. If we had some authentic North-Eastern food at the exhibit or even at the museum, this exhibition would have been an ultimate experience.

Anu Malhotra, the photographer, had taken these photos almost 10 years back while making documentaries on the different tribes and people of Asia. She is aware of the importance of her work and also the fact that very soon these photos will have archival value. This is something that she repeats in her interview often.

With 85 photographs and 10 videos, spears, bamboo wind chimes and things of unique shapes on display, Soul Survivors is not to be missed.

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