Every brick, every stone and every grain of sand holds in itself the power to make a façade out of the architecture of a region, narrating an invigorating tale replete with its history and heritage. So, when photographers Anupama Raju and Pascal Bernard set out to click a series of photographs of La Rochelle, a city in South-Western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean, they capture its essence, exploring the profound depth that defines the character of this city. Accompanied by Dominique Waag, the Director de Alliance Francaise, Chandigarh, who offers a candid, yet precise perspective of the city, we steal a leaf of history from every photograph at an exhibition, titled Surfaces and Depths, at the gallery of the institute.
“La Rochelle is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department. The city has a very rich heritage and was built in the sixteenth century, so you can see the shades of time in every photograph at the exhibition,” says Dominique. While every photograph stands defined with a poem that animates the very soul of the picture, it seems to create a dialogue between the aesthetically visual and the intellectually stimulating poetry. “The artist has detailed the fundamentally radical thought that prompted the art in the photograph with a poem and it seems like the art is complimenting art here,” says Dominique. While we steal a few glances of photographs with exquisite angles, the artists seem to focus on details and depth, making the view at hand much more profound.
The exhibition opens to motion photography with the view of a woman clad in white saree, tied in the traditional folds; a poem, titled La Rochelle, placed right next to it breaks the viewer’s constant gaze at the photo into a more meaningful observation. Soon, one establishes a familiarity of the visions in form of photography while acknowledging them with the title of the poems, which have been translated into English, thereby making their understanding easy even for those who do not understand French. While the A Saint Nicolas Fairy Tale holds the view of a light house around the port, it also details on its significance as a first line of defence. “It is an important lighthouse and important for our protection. If the guards see any unidentified ship trespassing into the city, it’s blown up,” says Dominique. He also shares that in La Rochelle, people either ride bicycles or walk. “No cars are allowed in the city,” he says.
So, if you have a heart of an explorer, the mind of an observer and the refined taste of art, culture and literature, it would be nothing short of blasphemy for you to skip out on this exhibition!
(On till July 4)
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