Defaced political posters make an interesting subject for young photographer, Nihaal Faizal

A growing interest, a new SLR camera and a torn blue poster in the rain as seen from the South over bridge. The story of young Nihaal Faizal, who recently held his second show of photographs, ‘More Automobiles Than Are Parkable,' at David Hall, Fort Kochi, begins from there. A standard XII student of Choice School, Nihaal is a young, fresh voice, seeking new interpretation into one of the commonest sites in any city in Kerala- political posters.

Socio-political statement

Stuck on walls, on derelict cars, buses, thatched huts on any vacant surface that presents itself, political posters dot the landscape, becoming live interfaces. The dialogue begins between the onlookers, the message and the detractors who vandalise the poster in protest. Nihaal finds a dimension to this socio-political conversation. He delves into erratic human behaviour that chooses to destroy, at times partially, at times completely, but with a clear motive to convey. He searches for the possible reasons of protest. Is it anti-establishment rage or natural nihilist tendencies or just gratuitous pranks? His answers, interestingly, are proverbs drawn from different cultures of the world that he has researched on the Internet. A student of sociology and psychology Nihaal delves into the depths of behavioural action and reaction over posters.

The simmering political activism in the State impels the sensitive artist to react with more than just a cursory click. Though not politically very “conscious” he cannot remain detached and yet he has manoeuvred his art apolitically, with much credit.

His interpretations are more psychological. A Freudian show of ‘ego defence' is the interpretation of a poster where the mouth of a personality has been ripped apart. He questions the reasons of why an eye has been gouged or a face, in the poster, has been slashed?

In ‘The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions', Nihaal comments sarcastically on the a series of ‘intact' posters stuck on a deserted bus. Defacing the bus was vandalism enough and hence the posters remain intact! In ‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbours', a barbed wire fence casts a shadow on the eye of the person, in the poster, distorting the image- an unintentional, natural act.

In ‘Closed Mouth Catches No Flies', the mouth in the poster is torn out. “The person has nothing left to say”, says Nihaal humorously.

He uses Gandhi's famous words, An Eye For An Eye, Makes The Whole World Blind,' in a poster depicting a burqua clad woman whose face has been despoiled yet leaving the identity intact.

Precociously mature

Though a beginner, Nihaal shows precocious maturity and makes a laudable effort to dissect questions that niggle. Though politically he takes a neutral stand but socially he makes strong comment. In the coming years when the young artist's passion for photography and his interest in human behaviour will gather experience he is sure to come up with works that will have the viewers take a deep, keen look at themselves, in new different perspectives. This was a trailer of the things to come from a young voice like his.

Currently Nihaal is working on digital photo collages. His 20 works are eco-solvent prints and he has used Canon 550D camera to click these photographs of posters that tell only part of the story.