What began as an idea to get photographers to share their work online during the lockdown, now stands— four seasons and 30 sessions later with discussions mainly in Tamil— as a documentation of contemporary photographers, all hailing from Tamil Nadu. Red Frames Talks series, curated by photographer and creative entrepreneur Perumal Venkatesan, better known as PeeVee, featured on Thalam's YouTube channel, an art gallery founded by him in Bengaluru in 2013.
“We had two main ideas: one was to provide a platform for photographers to discuss their work in their native language— Tamil. We had come across similar discussions in Hindi and English during this lockdown but none in Tamil. The second idea was to feature never-seen-before works of these photographers. This was a great hit among our audience,” shares PeeVee with enthusiasm.
The dialogues were curated into four seasons, each having eight sessions (except season two that had six sessions), some featuring two artists at once. A total of 45 artists have shared their work on Red Frames Talks series that began on April 9 and ended on May 17.
“We also had a session where we featured five students. It was the very first time they exhibited their work and the whole experience was very refreshing. Students share their work ranging from documentation on the anti-CAA protests to wildlife to folklore,” PeeVee says.
The series was also the first time many senior photographers shared some of their unexhibited works, says PeeVee. “With photographer Prabhu Kalidas, for instance, his Therukoothu (street play) work is more well-known but we made him show his work called Masi Magam,” he adds.
Chennai-based Prabhu Kalidas has been working on documentation of culture in Tamil Nadu for many years. Masi Magam, an annual festival, captures one-day in the lives of the Irular tribe in the state. The Masi Magam project is part of his Dravidian Chronicles, on which he has been working for the past seven years.
Screenshot from Prabhu Kalidas's session
PeeVee talks about photographers, Pattabiraman G and Tharmapalan Tilaxan (Jaffna), whose works were featured for the first time in the series. “Pattabiraman shared his long term project, his experience of shooting in North and East Sri Lanka post-civil war. This is the very first time he has shared this work. We are yet to upload it on our YouTube page and are planning for a bigger exhibit. Only the 100 who participated were able to preview his work,” PeeVee adds.
These sessions were spread over an hour, giving ample time for the photographers to discuss their work. “Photographer and professor Meenakshi Madhan, who has been documenting the Draupadi cult, spoke about her work on gender fluidity. She shared that this was the first platform on which she was allowed to speak for over 1.5 hours. The timing gave the photographers and the audience the opportunity to interact and share their views,” he points out.
The series was hosted over Zoom calls and later uploaded on Thalam’s YouTube page. According to PeeVee, for some sessions, the number of participants exceeded the limit of a hundred. “For all our sessions, attendance was between 60 to 100,” he adds.
Screenshot from Senthil Kumaran's session
Among those who participated were photographers Selvaprakash Lakshmanan, Senthil Kumaran, Ay Ashok Saravanan, Vinod Baluchamy, Palani Kumar, Pon Prabhakaran, Arun Vijay Mathavan, Meenakshi Madan, Amritharaj Stephen and more.
The series is available here for streaming.