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Poulomi Basu

New Art Exchange, Nottingham, United Kingdom
& AUTOGRAPH, London, United Kingdom



"… in war, truth is the first casualty…”

Poulomi Basu

Centralia exposes hidden crimes of war deep within the forests of central India where an under reported conflict between indigenous tribal people and the government slowly simmers.

Bringing together myriad perspectives in this oscillating journey, Poulomi Basu explores the unsteady relationship between reality and fiction and how our perceptions of truth are manipulated. The works reflect on an invisible conflict between a guerrilla army, native communities and the Indian state all of which are associated with wider issues of environmental justice and climate change.

Over a ten-year period, Basu collated documentary evidence presented in the form of video reports by local reporters, police investigations, biographies gathered from the guerrilla forces documenting the stories of women combatants killed; juxtaposed with photographs taken by the artist through the course of this decade long conflict.

The consequence is a clash of perspectives.

Centralia eschews specificity and is deliberately disjointed, stripping images of clichéd visual cues that often simplify complex geopolitical realities. This obfuscated narrative further emphasizes the ever-shifting alliances and identity where truth is expedient. As such, the work becomes a cipher to understand the assault on the rights of indigenous communities throughout the world and the conflict that inevitably follows.

In this cautionary tale, the rule of law is always backed up by brute force and in the fragmented reality of this insurrection, this reality is revealed, in all its horror and splendor.

Born 1983, in Calcuta, India.
Lives and works in Calcutta and London, United Kingdom.
Poulomi Basu is an Indian transmedia artist, photographer and activist. Her work explores the way in which the formation of identity becomes entwined with geopolitics, revealing the hidden power structures buried deep within our societies. Widely published and exhibited, Poulomi Basu is a Magnum Foundation Fellow and grantee and her work Centralia was recognized through the award of the Photographic Museum of Humanity Grant Main Prize in 2018. Her immersive VR films, Blood Speaks, are collected and distributed by the Tribeca Film Institute. She was featured as one of the ‘artists of the next decade’ in 2019 by Elephant magazine and a it “2020 National Geographic Explorer”.

Exhibition curator: Bindi Vora.
With support from New Art Exchange, Metro Imaging and Arts Council England.