A self-confessed lover of India’s remote and tribal north-east, the exhibition of Pablo Batholomew’s photos called “Coded Elegance” was not to be missed.
I went to the low-key, un-VIP-ey first night at the IIC, and what a visual treat.
There are amazing images of the daily lives of many of the tribes, as well as gorgeous images from festivals and ceremonies that a casual visitor to the north east might well never get to witness.
Some of the images, especially those shot in an almost formal portrait style, take on a grandeur that stops you in your tracks.
Serene faces stare at you, and once your excited eyes have taken in the amazing head-dresses and the fabulous beads (oh, those beads…sumptuous quantities of gorgeous beads), you return to the faces and eyes that gaze unwaveringly back at you.
Anyone who loves the north-east as I do should make a beeline for this exhibition, and anyone who has never been to the north east should also make exactly the same beeline, as these images might well just be the catalyst for new journeys and discoveries.
There is only one quibble.
Well, 2 actually.
The photos have no captions, not even a date, which means that in the absence of a catalogue/info sheet, you do miss some of the background information. And dates are always interesting, to put things in perspective,
On the opening night, the information sheets quickly ran out, so I did one round of the exhibition just looking, then a second round asking people who had a sheet to explain things. Then, to the credit of the IIC staff, a new batch of sheets appeared, so the third round was a fully informed one. It didn’t change the beauty of the images, of course, but it was interesting to learn the names and places and occasions. But still no dates.
The exhibition runs until 9 October, entry is free, and you really really should go.