Annu Palakunnathu Matthew: An Indian from India

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© Annu Palakunnathu Matthew
Courtesy Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and sepiaEYE, nyc.


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(All images courtesy Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and sepiaEYE, nyc.)

An Indian from India

As an immigrant, I am often questioned about where I am “really from.”  When I say that I am Indian, I often have to clarify that I am an Indian from India.  It seems strange that all this confusion started because Christopher Columbus thought he had found India and collectively called the native people of America Indians.

© Annu Palakunnathu Matthew.

Courtesy Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and sepiaEYE, nyc.

In this portfolio, I look at the other “Indian.” I play on my own “otherness,” using photographs of Native Americans from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century that perpetuated and reinforced stereotypes. I find similarities in how photographers of Native Americans looked at what they called the primitive natives, similar to the colonial gaze of the British photographers working in India. In every culture there is the “other”.

The images highlight assimilation, use labels and make many assumptions. I pair these with self-portraits in clothes, poses and environments that mimic these “older” images.  The clothes I wear are also “made up”, similar to the American ethnologist and photographer, Edward Curtis’ contrived posing and dressing up of some of his subjects into clothes of tribes other than their own. The final paired images challenge the viewers assumptions of then and now, us and them, exotic and local.

Biography

 Annu Palakunnathu Matthew’s recent exhibitions include SepiaEYE, New York City, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, Newark Art Museum, Guangzhou Biennial of Photography, China, Tang Museum, NY and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Upcoming is a solo exhibition in 2015 at the Royal Ontario Museum of Art, Toronto, Canada.

© Annu Palakunnathu Matthew.

Courtesy Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and sepiaEYE, nyc.

Among the list of grants recently supporting Matthew‘s work include a 2012 Fulbright fellowship, the SPE Future Focus Project support grant (2013), the John Gutmann fellowship, MacColl Johnson fellowship and a Rhode Island State Council of the Arts fellowship. Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The British Journal of Photography, BBC World and The Village Voice, among others.

Matthew’s work can be found in the collection of the George Eastman House, Fogg Museum at Harvard, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Center for Creative Photography and the RISD Museum, among others. Her work was recently featured on the New York Times Lens, CNN photo blog and Buzzfeed.com

Matthew’s work is included in the book BLINK from Phaidon, Self-Portraits and Home Truths: Motherhood, Photography and Loss by Susan Bright and The Digital Eye by Sylvia Wolf.

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew is Professor of Art at the University of Rhode Island and Director of the URI Center for the Humanities. Matthew is represented by SepiaEYE, New York City.
www.annumatthew.com

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