The idea of taking my pictures beyond the composed frame was something that made me want to do a series that accomplished simply that. A vague memory of a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of which I didn’t remember much but what I did was a boy being very abruptly cropped out of the picture. What stuck in my mind about that picture was the fact that the boy’s shadow in the photograph conveyed what it is that he was actually doing.

My hankering to do a series that simply revolved around shadows as the dominant subject of the photograph is what lead me to ‘Feeling Absence’. Although literally, the title suggests the absence of the actual subject in the photographs, the effort has been to take it to a more profound and spiritual plane.
The work tries to explore the significance of our life on this planet and our constant inability to realize that real wisdom doesn’t have much to with intelligence but what one decides to do with it. Also, what ‘feeling’ can actually translate into rather than the analysis of things, especially when we use the word ‘appreciation’.

Although I consider abstraction as my real style of work, in this series there has been a deliberate attempt to forward its boundaries, whilst also challenging the viewer to feel more than analyze. It is in keeping with this thinking that the photographs are much smaller in size as opposed to my previous bodies of work. The texture rich works too are meant to draw the viewer closer, almost into an intimate space.

It has been implied by writers over the years that there seems to be a universal thread running through all my work, which seems to be the seeking of the true meaning of the word ’emancipated’ but in a very non religious frame of reference. At the cost of sounding like a domesticated ascetic, I must admit that this is quite true.

The treatment of this body of work finds roots in old school photography, when one experimented with a technique called multiple exposure. This simply meant photographing the same frame of film several times without actually advancing it. In ‘Feeling Absence’ I rediscovered this technique in it’s digital avatar, which helped construct the final works layer by layer.

Shibu Arakkal

Monsoon | Twenty O’Nine

Shibu ArakkalFeeling Absence – Foreword