16 July 2019

PHmuseum 2018 Grant Winner Centralia to be Published as a Photobook

16 July 2019 - Written by PhMuseum

Dazzled by an apocalyptic beauty, by eclipse and fire, by joy, dread and dream, Poulomi Basu's Centralia is a docu-fiction that journeys deep into the forests of central India where a little-known and under-reported conflict between indigenous tribal people and the Indian state slowly simmers.

© Poulomi Basu, from the series Centralia

Poulomi Basu has been working on Centralia for the past nine years, moving ever deeper into a labyrinthine conflict over land, resources and identity. It is a tale of fractured landscape in extremis. This area is home to vast mineral deposits – iron ore, bauxite, coal – but it is also home to India’s indigenous tribal population. Caught between the Indian state and the Maoist guerrillas, they are fighting for their very survival as their land and environment are eroded through the brutal extraction of these minerals.

The endgame is confusion. Truth is expedient with alliances and identity shifting: shadows across a landscape, ghosts emerging from a jungle wilderness. Encounters are faked by the military and former insurgents wear the uniform of the police. Massacres are brutal and reprisals are swift. Basu's hybrid methodology eschews specificity, and is deliberately disjointed, stripping images of trite visual cues that often simplify complex geopolitical realities. Centralia explores the unsteady relationship between reality and fiction and how our perceptions of truth is manipulated.

© Poulomi Basu, from the series Centralia

Winning the PHmuseum 2018 Grant First Prize was an important milestone for the project. It marked the first time that Centralia had been out there, in the world, in its near-final form. This drew attention to her work which resulted in articles on worldwide publications such as the British Journal of Photography and Amnesty International, while she was also invited on to the BBC World Service, alongside Lynsey Addario on their program The Conversation, as one of the leading war photographers working today.

Centralia has always been conceived as a book which will finally see life this coming fall, published by Dewi Lewis. The photobook will be edited by award-winning designer Teun van der Heijden which will combine images of different styles and formats using diverse papers and page foldings. You can support Poulomi Basu’s book by pre-ordering a copy at a special price here until 20 July 2019.

© Poulomi Basu, from the series Centralia


The PHmuseum Team wishes to share with our community selected content like this to keep promoting and supporting work from previous Grant winners and honourable mention awardees.

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