The Others is a project about social codes and means of representation in India. It explores India’s complex relationship with the image, and the image’s complicated relationship to the self.
It is based on a series of portraits rendering the visual specificity and dress codes defining Indian men. Within such a compartmented society as India, the aim is to convey the variety of components contributing to building individual identity: religion, caste, social class, occupation and regional origin. The portraits are subsequently transformed using the various techniques of iconographic creation commonly used in India: ranging from neighbourhood photo studio, to digital lab alterations with Photoshop-like softs and portraits painted from photographs.
The Others invites us on a virtual journey through one of most compartmented societies, but also a country among the world’s most prolific producers of images.
In this project Olivier Culmann explores the limits of photography by questioning the construction of social status through practices of self-representation.
Culmann manages to create several layers of meaning in The Others that prevent it from presenting any singular or one-dimensional reflection of a complex reality. Its playfulness is infused with a certain warmth that one finds in the best of parodies, that seeks not to ridicule, but instead revel in, the absurdities of life.
Olivier Culmann was born in Paris in 1970 and has been working as a photographer since 1992. He is a member of the Tendance Floue collective, the objective of which is to explore the world and to diversify the modes of representation in contemporary photography. He has been exhibited and published in France and other places abroad. In 2011, he was the curator for India in the biennial event, Photoquai, organized by the Museum of Quai Branly in Paris.