What makes a place what it really is, are the people who inhabit it. They give it an identity, a history and of course, many stories to boast of. Using this concept, French photographer Pascal Bernard has beautifully captured the very characteristic nature of Puducherry, that draws thousands of tourists to it, through his lens.
His photographs speak volumes, with its layered detailing of the everyday people of the city. The collection ‘Une Ville, Un Lieu, Une Personne’ (One City, One Place, One Person), is accompanied by Indian poet Anupama Raju’s lyrical poems. Raju’s poems are the perfect accessory to Bernard’s photographs because they not only capture what the photographer has tried to portray through his lens, but also gives the viewers a glimpse of more than meets the eye. Her poems, be it the very dark and intense ‘Nightless Night’, a lover’s musings in ‘The Wait’ or ‘Disorientation’, she encapsulates the meaning behind the phrase ‘what you see is not always what you get’.
Bernard, in all of his photographs, has used a technique called tryptique, where he has captured the 28 different people who are featured in his collection at their favourite spots in the union territory. With one close-up shot, one mid range and a third long shot, Bernard’s use of a Polaroid camera accentuates the relationship between the personality of the person and Puducherry.
The French nationals who stare back at you with their wrinkled faces from the photographs are contrasted by locals like Philomene, a coconut seller, who is seen with her stack of coconuts and Iyappan, a man who irons clothes for a living. These conflicting images beautifully draw a picture of the diversity that makes Puducherry what it is.
‘Une Ville, Un Lieu, Une Personne’ is on till September 8 at the Alliance Francaise, No 24, College Road, Nungambakkam. For details, call 28279803.