My visually based project titled Telia involved the production of a photobook consisting of archival artefacts (including documents and photography) and self authored photography. The broader project for exhibit also includes a series of video poems.
Together the photobook, and video poems attempt to reanimate and reexamine the experiences of the men who came from undivided India and worked as hawkers or travelling salesman within rural Australia. The men worked both prior to and immediately proceeding the introduction of the 1901 Immigration act or ‘White Australia Policy’ as it was more commonly known.
At a macro level Telia is a research based project incorporating photography and video that explores the role of the visual in the construction of history. At an applied level the work seeks to contribute to the study of South Asian presence in Australia and to contextualise this within Australian racial hegemony, both past and present.
While my photographic and collected archivally based materials engage directly with narratives and histories that are somewhat external to my own, my video work attempts to contextualise and link my own presence and experiences to the photographic and archival based artefacts that I recover, create and animate.
The disparate, existing visually based history of the men who worked as hawkers is re-contextualised within Telia through the construction of new visually based artefacts in order to create contemporary and dynamic narratives and interpretations of histories.
My practice within Telia, involves the utilisation of both archival material and the creation of self-authored photographs. In this sense my work aligns with the methodology stated by Fontcuberta that, “preserving a sustainable equilibrium within the universe of images requires coordinating the containment of production with acts of recovery.” Put more simply Telia is an attempt to rationalise new image production with that of utilising existing visually based material to develop my expanded narrative. I utilise this methodology in recognition of, and as a counterpoint to, the photograph being ubiquitous in daily life.
While both photography and history are structurally subjective in nature, Telia is an attempt to create an authoritative research based work that incorporates historical experience and visual artefacts, while also acknowledging numerous relevant constraints of working within the medium of photography and the construct of history.
That photography broadly exists within a populist misconception of being the ultimate medium of ‘truth’ has prompted me to create a broader and more subjective narrative that may lead audiences to engage in a deeper thinking upon some of the issues of sociopolitical importance within regard to an Australia, both past and present.
As an Anglo-Indian my own life experience within both the wider Australian and Indian societies and through the associated cultural bodies of each social group was invaluable in assisting me to attempt to understand the experience of cultural dislocation that the men who worked as hawkers may have faced.