On world photography day, sbcltr reviews Ronny Sen’s latest series, Chronicles of an Old World Colour
29-year-old photographer Ronny Sen grew up in Calcutta, reading Soviet Literature and magazines that reflected the Nehruvian social fabric of the time. It is no surprise then, that when he got a month long photo-residency in Poland, he chose to explore a past in order to try and re-create that time from his childhood when the colour red was everywhere. “I wanted to explore how the colour red has changed, slowly and steadily. This experience has been like a short story that is very close to my heart where chance encounters have met the pre-conceived narratives of my mind,” he says. The end result has been a collection of work that is haunting, melancholic and nostalgic. Titled, New Chronicles of an Old World Colour, the work is inspired by Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy and Sen deliberately uses the lack of colour to create a sense of loss that is contagious to the photographer as well as the viewer. He also uses his personal memory in time to create an impressive time warp in city of Gdansk, Sen says that, “there are no winters in Calcutta. For me this was a chance to not only experience the romance of the season, but also to re-imagine it from the nostalgic lens of my childhood—the cute, sweet idea of a Europe that is now lost. In a sense, it was a lot like the Calcutta of my youth (the politics of it) which is now lost, when you look at the rise and fall of communism in both these places, the story is the same.”
At an exhibition of the series in Mumbai, an old European gentleman walked up to the photographer and congratulated him on documenting his country in the nostalgic way that he remembers it—the romantic left Poland of his youth. And it is not only the polish that have felt a connect with the series, “all our parents were into this idea. The Nehruvian dream was also a socialist dream. These pictures bring back shared memories of magazines tucked away in our homes, so in that sense, they are very relatable,” he says.
The series has now travelled to Goa and opens for exhibition today at Oddspot, where Sen is also the resident artist for the month. You can view the work below.