Chronicling Kerala floods: Frozen frames capture the devastation and resilience

Written by VIJAYAKUMAR MENON

Kerala experienced the most devastating floods ever in August 2018.  It killed more than 450 people and rendered thousands homeless.

https://youtu.be/xsN9it2Qrjc

Kuttanad in Alappuzha district, the rice bowl of Kerala, was one of the most affected places where the poor farmers lost everything.  The traumatic situation was horrifying and a photographic impression of it can give an idea of the tragedy Kerala experienced. It is a visual statement of what happened to Kerala, especially Kuttanad. This photographic exhibition is a homage to nature and the environment as well as to the affected people.

When we meet truth face to face in a critical situation like earthquake or flood, we feel the human helplessness. Though the poor and the rich suffer equally only the poor are made fugitives, and the marginalised in the society are almost wiped out from history. The existence and survival of these people are not at all a problem for many after the floods. The humanitarian outlook of the artists very often comes together to declare the danger to society through their respective mediums.

Anything happened once becomes history and to go back and visit the past is really an organic endeavour for any artist to become contemporary. The devastating floods in the month of August 2018 in Kerala is a lesson for all the people who pose themselves deaf to the warnings by the environmentalists, artists, writers and activists. Photography is one of the strongest mediums to bring forward the past to the present and remind the public about the havoc we had to suffer. The vestiges of reality remain perpetually imprinted in photographic language and Kerala’s nightmare of August 2018 is history and also a warning to the future. It includes past, present and future.

Kajal Deth, a visual artist and painter, is now experimenting with photography too. These photographs document the facts to explore the truth that become the documentation of many contemporary problems. History, anxiety about the devastating urbanisation, love of nature and female power of expression are visible in her photographs. It’s a visual statement through camera images.

About the author

VIJAYAKUMAR MENON

Vijayakumar Menon is a art historian

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