Number – issue 47

Absence. Transcendence. II. 2003

Winter 2004

‘Campsite for the Non-Citizen – photographs’, University Gallery, Sewanee, TN.
excerpt from a review by Susan Knowles

“As someone born and raised in Tanzania, outside of his country of ancestral origin (India), educated in the United Kingdom, and working in the United States, photographer Pradip Malde is familiar with concepts of displacement. Facing a decision about American citizenship about the same moment as our country was mounting its “war on terrorism” brought him to a serious meditation on what it means to become a citizen of a country with which one finds oneself morally at odds. …

…Malde’s images seem at first quite abstract. In some, his characteristically blurred platinum-toned edges are juxtaposed with areas in sharp focus. With one or two exceptions, the subjects are ordinary things that people use and places they inhabit. Often, they are not immediately recognizable; tea flowers for instance look like swimming sea creatures or wads of pipe tobacco in animated dance. They are often shown quite small, as if distanced from the viewer’s eye, and sometimes left purposely puzzling. Malde arranges the series in titles such as “Origin,” “Affiliation,” “Power and Structure,” “Demarcation,” “Evidence,” Expiration,” “Absence and Transcendence,” for groupings of three to five. The terms are suggestive, implying a strong narrative about things such as birth, death and marriage but leaving open the possibility that they might also apply to forced migration or detention, trial or imprisonment, expulsion or obliteration. But the narrative as such is far from a clear progression. The lack of guidance is unsettling and leaves viewers grasping at meaning, which is probably the intention. The mood of the work is sombre and dreamy, perhaps lonely (the back of two heads of hair appears to be the only human representation) and a little ominous. And there is a feeling that someone or something has control over what we are seeing.”

Affiliation II, 2002
digital pigment print from 11×14 original negative

 

Expiration II, 2003
digital pigment print from 11×14 original negative