Kings and local weather change | Ok.R. Sunil pictures Chavittu Nadakam artistes in Kerala who’re going through rising sea ranges

Kings and local weather change | Ok.R. Sunil pictures Chavittu Nadakam artistes in Kerala who’re going through rising sea ranges
Kings and local weather change | Ok.R. Sunil pictures Chavittu Nadakam artistes in Kerala who’re going through rising sea ranges
Fisherman and Chavittu Nadakam artiste George Vadakkepparambil

Fisherman and Chavittu Nadakam artiste George Vadakkepparambil
| Photo Credit: Ok.R. Sunil

Silosh George, a fisherman from Chellanam, a coastal village in Kochi, moonlights as a Chavittu Nadakam artiste. In his 30s, George is without doubt one of the few younger practitioners of the sixteenth century dance drama. He typically attends rehearsals after the day’s work. Once on stage, nonetheless, he effortlessly transforms into his character, mouthing verses from a special period with ease.  

Silosh George with his family

Silosh George together with his household
| Photo Credit:
Ok.R. Sunil

Intrigued by the artistes inextricably certain by the ocean and the legacy of Chavittu Nadakam — an artwork kind believed to have originated within the coastal areas of Kodungallur-Kochi-Alappuzha in the course of the Portuguese rule — photographer Ok.R. Sunil has been documenting them over the previous seven years.

George lives alongside the fringes of the Kochi-Chellanam coast, as do a lot of his fellow artistes. Though they rely upon the ocean for a residing, they’re additionally continuously at odds with it. The area has borne the brunt of local weather change; even peaceable December brings tidal flooding. “Their residing circumstances are an entire distinction to the characters [kings, queens, warriors] they play on stage,” says Sunil. It was this contradiction that drew him to them.

Photographer K.R. Sunil

Photographer Ok.R. Sunil
| Photo Credit:
Special association

A dropping battle

Sunil first noticed George and the opposite artistes in 2014, at an annual Chavittu Nadakam competition in Gothuruthu, an island in Paravur, Ernakulam. The significantly boisterous group of women and men, who wanted further coats of make-up due to their darkish pores and skin, exuded a uncommon form of power. Their operatic costumes and resonant voices belied the stark actuality of their lives. “They are enthusiastic about and happy with their artwork. While it has developed through the years, these individuals maintain on to the traditional model, which makes use of verses in Tamil, which isn’t recorded however sung reside on stage,” he says.

Over time, the Kodungallur-based photographer struck up friendships and started visiting their houses. “There have been cases when all that remained in a few of their homes was a cot, with the entire household huddled on it, ready for the waters to recede. These are marginalised individuals preventing local weather change and poverty,” he says.

Alphonsa poses as a queen outside her hut that’s surrounded by water

Alphonsa poses as a queen exterior her hut that’s surrounded by water
| Photo Credit:
Ok.R. Sunil

A Chavittu Nadakam artiste

A Chavittu Nadakam artiste
| Photo Credit:
Ok.R. Sunil

Antony has been grappling with the effects of climate change

Antony has been grappling with the consequences of local weather change
| Photo Credit:
Ok.R. Sunil

Chavittu Nadakam artiste Thankachan outside his home

Chavittu Nadakam artiste Thankachan exterior his dwelling
| Photo Credit:
Ok.R. Sunil

Sunil’s preoccupation with individuals linked to the ocean and maritime historical past have resulted in a number of his sequence, together with Vanishing Life Worlds, on the individuals within the erstwhile port city of Ponnani (showcased on the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale), and his 2020 Home, which had pictures of the ocean claiming homes alongside Kerala’s coast.

In a marked deviation, his newest work includes a sequence of 32 staged pictures exhibiting the Chavittu Nadakam artistes of their costumes set in opposition to the truth of their houses, every body capturing the helplessness and uncertainty of their lives.  

Sunil’s work is a part of Sea: A Boiling Vessel, offered by Aazhi Archives (with Riyas Komu as its creative director), and can run parallel to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. It is on at Kashi Hallegua House and Heritage Arts on Jew Street in Mattancherry for the subsequent three months.

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