"Where frames capture archetypes" in THE HINDU

The exhibition put up at the Kalinka Art Gallery in Puducherry.

Capturing the quintessence of rituals by taking a deeper look into the psychic identity of devotees, French photographer Yannick Cormier has put up a fascinating collection of his works at an ongoing exhibition titled ‘Dravidian Catharsis.’

“The rites are also connected with the catharsis which is in relationship with the instincts and the natural impulses. We are still in our unconscious state marked by primitive instincts... and the rituals like the catharsis is a way to calm them or to purge them, almost like an act of exorcism,” believes Mr. Cormier

Nearly 45 photographs from masquerade of Gods in Dasara festival in Tiruchendur and Kulasekharapatnam to Malmagudi Theatre Land in Kovilpatti and Periyachi Amman in Puducherry, Kalinka Art Gallery have exhibited Mr. Cormier’s works.

Born in France and now living in India, Mr. Cormier, after working for magazines such Vogue, Flair, Vanity Fair, etc., chose to become a documentary photographer. The exhibition is being held till October 13.

He says: “Take for instance, my photography of a man dressed as Goddess Kali during the rite of Dasara at Kulasekarapattinam and Tiruchendur. He does not pretend to be the Goddess. He is convinced that he is the Goddess. He shares the same psychic identity with the Goddess; identity which is of the domain of myth and of symbolism. I consider my photography work in the same domain.”

Dravidian catharsis is a manifestation of such archetypes as visible realities. “It is not about a particular person enjoying a particular festival in a particular place and time. It is about the entire notion of hidden and complex identities and the equally complex surfaces of projected appearance,” said Mr. Cormier.

The photographer uses close distance in his pictures to create a form of intimacy from the subject into photographs for the viewer. “Given the theme of my work, it also creates a numinous impact. This distance is part of my visual identity as a photographer,” he signs off.

As art historian France Borel writes about the photographer: “Here it is another journey, one without border and one between reportage, testimony, fine arts…. At its paroxysm, photography is all this. Where people are captured in the deepest part of their being, in a state of extreme trance or behind masks, perched on top of their body that are sometimes more eloquent than faces.”