Chat Olivier Culmann captures the way we watch television

Olivier Culmann knows he cannot be judgemental about how we watch television. He'd rather that we look at ourselves, or people like us, and introspect. “As spectators to news, we are very emotional. I wanted to see how we looked like while watching TV, in a global way. I was disturbed by what I saw,” says Olivier, who is in Hyderabad for his photo exhibition, TV Viewers.

The French photographer was commissioned for this project in 2004. The assignment took him to three countries — India, Morocco and United States. “It took time to get to know families, for them to be comfortable in my presence in their living rooms so that I could capture moments that did not look orchestrated,” says Culmann.

Be it India, United States or Marrakech/ Morocco, the living rooms are quite the same. People, young and old, stay glued to the television screens; conversations cease and anxiety creeps in when a soccer/cricket match is in progress; homes turns happy while bonding over a movie; couch potatoes curled up in a state of conscious slumber on sofas/beds late into the night and sometimes, a lone television set plays to an empty living room. Olivier's photographs are a study in human behaviour that makes us reflect on how we spend our evenings.

“I am not a news photographer. I like to focus on what others would ignore as day-to-day activities,” says Olivier.

From the 40-odd photographs that are part of this Alliance Francaise exhibition, he has showcased 25 photographs in Hyderabad. One of his earlier projects involved studying school students in classrooms in 20 countries. “The project took seven years and the results were wonderful,” he smiles. Now based in New Delhi, Olivier has taught photo journalism in France, Nigeria, USA and was the recipient of 2008 World Press Photo Prize.

The exhibition is on at Kalakriti Art Gallery till November 5.