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Annu Palakunnathu Matthew : Indelible Memories

November 2, 2015 , written by la-redaction-the-staff

sepiaEYE is pleased to present Indelible Memories, a retrospective of Annu Palakunnathu Matthew’s work. Composed of eight bodies of work spanning Matthew’s nearly 20 year career, Indelible Memories highlights the artist’s unique approach to bridging the gaps between the political, social, and transformative issues stemming from her three cultural backgrounds and the facts and fictions of her memories colliding through her explorations of the past. These cultural “overlays” and shifts use a framework of visual juxtaposition and the construction of parallel realities, identities and histories.

Born in England in 1964 to Indian parents, Matthew moved with them to India at age 11. Her father, the photo-documentarian of the family, passed away shortly thereafter. Lost with his passing was the so-called photographic “proof” of her childhood memories. Dr. Deepali Dewan, (Senior Curator, Royal Ontario Museum) writes, “The family photograph is the most familiar, ubiquitous and numerous of any genre of photography and yet, despite its popularity, remains notably absent from photo histories. In much of her work, Matthew brings focus on the family photograph, exploring its psychological and emotional dimensions to subvert cultural expectations.”

Immigrating to America at the age of 28 and beginning her photographic career, Matthew’s unique take on family, memory, and the construction of parallel realities, identities, and histories weave together seamlessly in her imagery. In her essay Memory’s Kingdom for Matthew’s monograph Memories of India, Vicki Goldberg gracefully states that “[Matthew’s] sense of self is ambiguously located between England, India, and America, and these images hover ambiguously between dream and reality, document and fantasy, clarity and obscurity, today and long ago. Memory and time, those elusive qualities, are malleable in Matthew’s hands. Here they merge in an evocative personal account of a country partially erased by camera light, time, and what it called progress.”

Still photography, photo animation, and video are deftly used in Matthew’s cultural investigations. In An Indian from India, a series of diptychs, Matthew tackles the misguided question: “But where are you really from?” Stemming from the need to explain herself as “an Indian from India,” the artist presents 19th and early 20th century portraits of Native Americans, photographed as exotic “others.” Matthew mimics this approach in the second image of the diptych, recreating the scene with herself as the sitter as an “Indian from India,” touching on the colonial gaze so common in 19th century photography of Indians by the British.

In Fabricated Memories, the artist composites her childhood family snapshots with images made during a visit to England 20 years after her father’s death. These seemingly realistic events never occurred, but accurately depict Matthew’s memories of her father and her childhood in England. The work is presented as an accordion book of Polaroid transfers of her digitally composited homemade family album. As her father died from smoking, the book is bound in paper made from tobacco leaves and housed in a cigarette box stained with tobacco juice to further lead the viewer into her fabricated memories using the senses of sight, touch, and smell.

In Open Wound, Matthew explores the memories of the children of the 1947 Partition of India. Here she uses family photographs and reenactments to create poignant photo animations with excerpts of their stories.

Matthew’s work has been exhibited internationally; most notably in a recent solo exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, in addition to The RISD Museum, Providence, Newark Art Museum, 2009 Guangzhou Biennial of Photography in China, 2006 Noorderlicht Photofestival in The Netherlands, and the 2005 Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal Photo Biennale in Canada.

Matthew is a recipient of the MacColl Johnson Fellowship in Visual Arts, the John Gutmann Fellowship, the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts Fellowship, and the American Institute of Indian Studies Creative Arts Fellowship. She was an artist-in-residence at the Yaddo and MacDowell Colonies.

Her work can be found in the collections of the George Eastman House, Royal Ontario Museum, Fogg Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Center for Creative Photography, Daimler Art Collection, and the RISD Museum among others.
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew is Professor of Art (Photography) at the University of Rhode Island.

In celebration of the exhibition and NYC’s Asian Contemporary Art Week, please join us at the gallery on Saturday, November 7th at 4:00 PM for an exhibition walk-through and talk with artist Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and legendary photography writer and curator Vicki Goldberg. We will have Matthew’s publication Memories of India, with an essay by Vicki Goldberg, available for purchase and signing.



  From   2015-11-06
  To    2015-12-26



547 West 27th Street, #608, New York, NY 10001
New York United States

+1 212-967-0738

Additional Informations

<p>sepiaEYE is dedicated to showing a spectrum of modern and contemporary photography and video work from Asia. Established in September 2009 by Esa Epstein, sepiaEYE will continue to foster artist development through exhibitions, publications, trade fairs, and festivals.</p> <p>We are honored to represent the Estates of Raghubir Singh and Bhupendra Karia. sepiaEYE is interested in the rediscovery of lesser known artists and significant periods within the history of photography and in the support of emerging artists.</p> <p>During her tenure as the Executive Director and Curator of <span class="caps">SEPIA</span> International and The Alkazi Collection (1995-2009), Esa Epstein has published eight titles on modern and contemporary photography including: Atul Bhalla: Yamuna Walk (sepiaEYE &amp; UW Press, 2011), Jungjin Lee: Wind, essays by Eugenia Parry and Vicki Goldberg (Aperture/SEPIA, 2009); Ketaki Sheth: Bombay Mix, preface by Suketu Mehta (Dewi Lewis/SEPIA, 2007); and Vivan Sundaram: Re-take of Amrita, essays by Vivan Sundaram and Wu Hung (<span class="caps">SEPIA</span>, 2006).</p> <p><span class="caps">SEPIA</span> exhibitions have been reviewed in numerous publications, most notably, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Sun, <span class="caps">ART</span>news, and Art in America. Gallery artists have gained critical acclaim and international recognition, and their works are included in the collections of major European and US museums and private collectors.</p> <p>In her former position, Esa Epstein has helped build an impressive collection of Indian photography and, along the way, has offered her expertise to both private and public collections. Esa Epstein continues to offer institutional planning and arts management through sepiaEYE.<br /><br /><br />Gallery Hours:<br /> Tues-Fri 10-6, Sat 11-6.</p>


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Annu Palakunnathu Matthew : Indelible Memories
A la galerie sepiaEYE

Until December 26, the New York SepiaEYE gallery is featuring a retrospective of the Indian photographer Annu Palakunnathu Matthew. Assembling eight projects which retrace her twenty-year-long career, this exhibition is a window onto the memories of an artist who uses photography...