About a poem and society's angst

You can call them bizarre or outlandish characters. Men dressed in costumes of octopus, crab and fish are seen on the roads interacting with people around them, eating, drinking and performing activities which we tend to see generally on roads. So what is the difference between those odd characters and others? The outer as well as inner persona definitely! And photographer Natasha Hemrajini, knows how to beautifully project this disparity by relating this unusual video with the poetry of Nicanor Parra.

Parra, the Spanish poet, never believed that poetry is just about romance. He is popular for his sarcastic and anti-poetic remarks on the society. Hemrajini gives a visual image to Parra’s poetry ‘Litany of the little Bourgeois’ through a video where she hints at aristocrats and people who want to follow them. 

“The poetry makes fun of such aristocrats. If those following them do not fit into the league, then too it is ok. Though they are different, they can still lead a good life,” she says.

She beautifully translates his poem ‘Tests’ that addresses the mocking attitude of the poet. She presents a series of photographs of men dressed in different uniforms and pointing their middle finger. “My view was that they will not be the same throughout their life as we expect them to be as they are part of the establishment,” says Hemrajini.

Her work has been displayed along with another photographer Ronny Sen in an exhibition titled ‘Photo-poetry: Nicanor Parra, 100-year-old anti-poet’.  Ronny, too has, projected a multimedia presentation on the ongoing protest against molestation of a girl at Jadavpur University, West Bengal

The video captures students taking to the streets and giving mass resignation from the university. The interesting part is the background score of the video which is the original voice of Parra narrating his poem ‘Vice of the Modern World’ 

“Parra is an anti-poet and has a lot of influence over Kolkata. Though his poems are in Spanish, the translated versions are well-recognised and have been an inspiration for many.  His poetries have a certain kind of resistance against global capitalism and populism,” says Ronny.

The exhibition is on view at Instituto Cervantes till December 31 from 11 am to 7 pm.

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