Three years ago, when a foreigner turned his camera to capture the picture of Abdu Rahiman standing inside his house, the 78-year-old Kochi native did not have any reason to even think that his photograph would find a spot in an art gallery.
“January 17 is a special day in my life. It's a day I will never forget,” says Rahiman.
Inside the gallery of Uru art harbor in Fort Kochi, a proud Rahiman kept his eyes on the visitors who gazed at his image on the canvas. He also met the German photographer Andre Luetzen who once clicked his picture and said, “I remember a foreigner coming to my house and clicking some pictures of me and my wife. I never took it seriously. Yesterday, my son Siraj came with a newspaper with my photo and I was really surprised.”
It is not just about Abdu Rahiman's life, but Luetzen's portrayal of life through his lens intertwining the motifs of climate extremities and human tolerance in three different cities.
Luetzen's photographs at the exhibition titled 'Living Climate: A Tale of Three Cities' takes you to Kochi in Kerala, Arkhangelsk in Russia and Khartoum in Sudan, motley geographical entities in every sense.
His voyage steered by lens through the indoors of three distinct settlements started back in 2014.
“I happened to stay in Russia's Arkhangelsk for five weeks in 2014 during March-April and the temperature took a drastic dip to minus 20 degrees. Arkhangelsk has a winter that lasts for five months. I wondered how people lived in such extreme weather conditions. I got curious about how they create personal spaces through sharp weathers. That's exactly how I started off with this project,” Luetzen told Onmanorama.
But somehow, when the artist felt that his project would be incomplete if it discusses the tale of a single city. He picked two other places which are typical of their climate. With a 50 degree heat, Sudan's Khartoum is famous for its hectic, dehydrating summer. Kochi, with its sheer heterogeneity and population density, was chosen for its heavy monsoons.
Luetzen's photographs that peeks into the tale of three cities underscores the fact that the basic emotions of people do not vary across geographical borders. The personal spaces panned by it narrate the most genuine stories of acceptance and adaptations. His work is not a comparison of different climatic conditions, but offers a perspective on how climate changes modify living spaces.
The exhibition is on at Uru Art Harbour till February 28. Andre Luetzen will take his photographs to Bangalore and Kolkata from Kochi.