His lens zoomed in and out of the lives of people in three different cities around the world. Their languages he didn’t know, but their smiles he did. And he returned it with love. German photographer Andre Luetzen wandered around, braving the scorching sun in Khartoum, Sudan, shivering in the bone-freezing chillness in Arkhangelsk, Russia, and waving through knee-deep waters in Kochi, Kerala. Here, people live within their climate through difficult memories and diverse identities, forgetting the weather outside as their inner calamities rule them. They sulk, get angry, cry, smile, sleep and at times, just stare.
Through his photography exhibition ‘Living Climate: A Tale of Three Cities’, Luetzen has brought to the Uru Art Harbour in Mattancherry the lives trapped in diverse and extreme weather conditions. People in the photos offer a glimpse into their life and inner spaces, but never open the doors and let others in. Some photographs are taunting and distressing with livid, impassive expressions, but a few others have no faces or people.
Walking along the hall, Luetzen unveils the stories with a smile, “This trilogy explores three sets of photographs- Zhili Byli (Once upon a time...), Inside Out, , and Khartoum. The photos here are displayed in a film-like sequence, with a rhythm.”
Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, is where the Blue Nile and White Nile converge and has a 46 degree sub-Saharan desert climate. “It was difficult to invade into the private spaces as people are quite conservative. I talked to them and convinced them. As you can see, they do not stare at you and create an intimacy. They move around and do things in their house unaffected by my presence,” he says.
“Zhili Byli combines images of contemporary living and housing conditions with a series of portraits of residents from Arkhangelsk, a city in northwest Russia. Plunged into freezing temperatures for eight months a year, sometimes as low as 40 degrees below zero, the city’s people have created cave-like havens of intimacy and comfort where they spend most of the year, while the world on the outside seems strangely neglected,” he says.
Inside Out is photographed in Kochi, during monsoon.
The photographs reflect the milky grey colour of the monsoon as people star indoors. He gets into the skin of people living in dinky houses, watching television and engaging in household chores.
The exhibition will go on till February 28....