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Annu Palakunnathu Matthew-1964 | Artist’s Statements

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. Not an American-Indian, but rather an Indian-American, South-Asian Indian or even an Indian-Indian. It seems strange that all this confusion started because Christopher Columbus thought he had found India and called the native people of America collectively as Indians.

In this portfolio, I look at the other "Indian". I find similarities how Nineteenth century photographers of Native Americans looked at what they called the primitive natives, similar to the colonial gaze of the Nineteenth century British photographers working in India. In every culture there is the "other".

In this portfolio I play on my own "otherness", using photographs of Native Americans from the Nineteenth Century which perpetuate and reinforce stereotypes. 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 are also "made up", similar to Edward Curtis' intervention in his posing and dressing up of some of his subjects in his photographs. I challenge the viewers assumptions of then and now, us and them, exotic and local.