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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Indu Antony On Capturing The Hopes And Fears Of A Destitute Home Through Her Art Projects

  • IWB Post
  •  June 15, 2019

When Indu Antony first took the decision to quit her medical career and become an artist in 2008, she had to meet a lot of resistance.

“When I took the decision to be an artist, I wanted to move away from all that I was doing before, I was kind of lost. I almost felt like a destitute because neither my family nor my friends could accept what I was going to start doing and that’s when I landed up at a destitute home in Bangalore,” she says.

Indu thus decided to volunteer at the place and spend some time there. “Very soon I started feeling like it was my second home,” she shares. Indu started spending a lot of her time at the destitute home and started hearing what the inmates had to say.

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Their stories were marred with pain, despair, and longing. Indu knew then itself that she had to somehow capture these stories and tell them to the world. Photography came as an easy answer and the seed of her project Broken Strings was sown right there. The task was now to find out a way of portraying these stories minimalistically, in a way that they could speak for themselves.

Like Indu shares, “I didn’t want to give these images too much of a story. I just wanted them to speak on their own. I mean a lot of pain and the things that are going on in there are very much visible through the images and that’s exactly what I aimed to do. I didn’t want it to look like a documentary kind of thing where it was like all about “okay, this person did this”, “this person did that.” I didn’t want to have that kind of an approach for the project.”

Indu thus decided to approach it like the artist that she was and attempted to capture all that she perceived without clouding it with any sorts of didacticism. The line between overdoing and underdoing it was really fine and Indu spent almost three years at the destitute home to figure out the right balance.

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Unfortunately, shortly after it went live, the project had to be discontinued as the authorities felt that the “sadness” in the pictures was too much to take and the potential investors wouldn’t be able to stomach the same.

To be so disturbed by pain that you decide to look away, that you decide to push it under the carpet. Isn’t it an irony and a paradox? But then again, I don’t think that the weak-hearted ever changed the world.

Over time, as Indu got involved with the inmates and stories, she realised that amidst the jarringly painful train of their stories nestled hope, a hope of things that might happen, a hope of making it out of the destitute home, and a hope of a world that pulsated outside the bleak walls of that destitute home.

While she was still navigating through the right way of interjecting that space and wanting to talk about certain things that they may want to talk about, the prelude to “Broken Strings” came together called It’s a beautiful world ‘Outside.’

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Indus shares, “I noticed that each of these women was talking about a particular memory of a certain thing or something that they wanted to do as soon as they get out of the destitute home. They had a big lock at the gate and they were not allowed to go out until somebody comes to take them.”

An artist knows hope as well as she/he know despair and so did Indu who soon sensed the hope that festered in the darkness of that destitute hope, a hope that “there existed somebody who’d come and set them free.” Indu says, “I realised that a lot of them had dreams about the world that existed beyond that lock.”

Speaking of her approach for the two projects, Indu says, “So my approach at the end of the day, when I show my pictures and when I talk about the story, is that there is somebody who wants to help them and direct them to home. But the primary intent for me as an artist is to talk about things that disturb me as a person and what happens after that is each person’s prerogative.”

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She adds, “The projects have been done for the personal pain and comes from a very personal space.”

Speaking on the conversation that she had with inmates, Indu shares, “Some of them could converse, some of them couldn’t, and some of them talked in a language that was only known to them. I remember, one of the ladies there couldn’t talk to me unless I gave her a pen and a paper and she started writing. That was then that everybody realised that this woman could write.”

She adds, “My interaction with them was more on a personal level. I’d sit next to them, lie next to them, and talk to them. So that’s how the conversations started and that’s when I realised that each of them had a dream and when I started talking to them and connected with them, I saw that they all had a particular kind of dream and I thought maybe I could do a second project leading up to this.”

For both the objects, Indu abstained to speak from the inmates’ behalf and had thus tried to capture everything as she saw it. Perhaps she felt that she didn’t want to talk on their behalf, perhaps she wanted them to talk for themselves, perhaps she wanted to portray it just like it was. Thus, for It’s a beautiful world ‘Outside,’ Indu decided to take a different approach and made videos of these women where they shared their stories, hopes, fears, and dreams.

Here is a clip from It’s a beautiful world ‘Outside’:

Its a Beautiul World ‘Outside’

This is “Its a Beautiul World ‘Outside'” by Indu Antony on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

When asked about something that she learned from her time at the destitute home and how that altered her life, Indu instantly answers, “My perspective, oh my God, my perspective.” She adds, “The biggest take away for me is my perspective that has changed completely. I have realised that the issues and things that I face are way bigger in my head than they actually are and nothing compared to what these women have been through. It has made me a stronger person and whenever I reflect on it, it kind of works as a reality check.”

Image Source: Indu Antony

 

First published on Dec 28, 2018.

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