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Of photographic wizardry

French photographer Michel Maruca's perspective of images of the city is rather different. He provides a new interpretation to his photographs using the Photoshop and other tools. His exhibition `IMAGEinE the streets' is on at the Daira Centre for Art and culture, writes R. UMA MAHESHWARI.

MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE: The child is the overwhelming aspect of the photograph.

THE EXHIBITION of photographs `IMAGinE the Streets' by Michel Maruca (at the Daira Centre for Art and Culture) is all about `an' image in the streets, or multiple images; and the very process of imaging itself, the streets of Hyderabad and its people, and environs. The exhibition was inaugurated by film-maker B. Narsing Rao on April 5.

Thirty-year-old Michel (a French citizen) started tostudy professional photography after his graduation but did not complete it. But photography remained a passionate `hobby'. Having taught for a brief while at the Alliance Française here, and dabbled in other fields thereafter, he has been focusing on his photography -- working with ten concepts so far, three of which are on show at Daira Centre for Art and Culture -- the image of the child in the streets, pictures that result from `negotiating' with Photoshop as a tool, and some `different' kind of nature photography.

Much of Michel's artistry lies in the ability to capture many images in a single (wide-angle) frame, as well as many frames in a single image, which makes the subject vast, expansive, and not just limited to one simplistic portrait or landscape photography. It is, in fact, a wider context, within which his subjects are located and meant to be seen in.

REMOVER OF OBSTACLES: Ganesha sits snug with young boys.

For instance, the children in the lanes of Hyderabad, he captures their presence within a particular moment of everyday living, some simply looking at the camera, others pushing a stuck-up Ambassador car, one perched happily on her grandmother's lap, and so on. But there is an element of interpretation to this very conscious photography -- the child becomes the overwhelming aspect of the photographs, not through zooming-in on the subject or classic close-ups, but through computer imaging, which makes the child look larger than its environs.

The environs have not been disturbed, and the photographer gets to furnish his subject with a greater presence. In a larger context, much of contemporary photography has moved from the wizardry of capturing the light and shade with the subject on the field (which gave the subject its own dimensions) to `post-production touches' using the Photoshop and its variants to mould the picture in a context far removed from the actual scene of the subject, even the mere act of taking photographs. It is much more than freezing images of a particular time and moment; and that is what Michel's work seems to focus on; the element of embellishment to the frame, which are, at times, witty, and bizarre at others, for instance, the photograph of a snugly seated Ganesha amidst few young boys or the picture of a shopkeeper with a petite Victorian woman seated on a chair beside him, both deeply occupied in thought.

Both the Ganesha and the woman are aspects within the larger canvas photographed by Michel - at close observation, you see both these images in a poster or a painting in the location where Michel has taken the picture. Michel has thus implanted an illusionary element to the picture, yet at the same time, implanted an element from within that `real' subject frame. Among the other interesting `cut-and-paste' implantations include the photographs of a fish stall (with the sign Ganga Fish Stall) and a paper cut-out of a large fish inserted all around it - the fish cut-out from the Fish stall, thus inserted, seems to hang from the branches of a tree.

BIRD CAGE: An owlet in the YMCA basketball court.

Yet another is the Eiffel Tower in the backdrop of a home (the Tower can be spotted as a replica in the showcase of the house); and the now non- existent Twin Towers (again from a poster of the legendary structure).

An element of surrealism is reflected in what is the photograph of an empty, narrow lane, with papers flying across - the torn poster on the wall makes for this unique experimenting.

AWE & WONDER: Eiffel Tower against a local backdrop.

Bird-life photography has generally been one of extreme close-ups of the different species, but Michel inverts this to capture the birds in his frame without loosing out on the contexts in which the birds are found -- it could be a tree beside the YMCA basketball court, housing an owl, or a beautifully blossomed Gul mohar tree with pigeons perched on it in the Babu Khan estate or a difficult to spot gecko inside the hollow of a tree trunk, with a woman in the background, indulging in a worship ritual.

Says Michel, "This exhibition has allowed me not to be a tourist or a foreigner and to meet people, to absorb the Indian culture. I want my daughter (Shrishti) to see this culture (like it is hers) in my photographs." Being married to Rijuna, a Hyderabadi, he feels gives him that extra sense of belongingness to this city.

Among the other concepts he is working on include using French proverbs and corresponding images, which is `hard work', experimenting with the Stencil, and another using varied, fragmented images from the internet.

`ImaginE', the exhibition, is on view till April 19 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.), with a special interactive session with Michel on April 13, on `Ways of Seeing' art.

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