Photographer Ronny Sen’s second solo show at Mumbai’s Tarq Gallery is titled Fire Continuum. Following his last exhibition in Mumbai, New World Chronicles Of An Old World Colour, presented in 2016, the new exhibition, Fire Continuum, continues to highlight Sen’s photographic engagement with the contemporary landscape. Shifting his lens to Jharia, a coal mining town in Jharkhand, the artist looks deeply into the current issue of environmental degradation that has made life unlivable in some parts of the world.
Sen captures images of the coal fire that has been burning in Jharia since the early 1900s, as well as unethical and unsustainable mining practices that continue in the area till today. The result of this is a set of entirely surreal images that are simultaneously morbid and immeasurably beautiful. Initially published as a book titled End of Time in 2017, the photographs in the exhibition allow an opportunity to explore in detail how precious the environment is at this very moment.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue essay penned by Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London, Christopher Pinney. In his essay, Pinney examines the singular white Hindustan Ambassador in the series and says, “Looking back and forth over the translucent, almost archetypal and emblematical images of this extraordinary cruel and viscous landscape, one is stopped short, almost with a jolt by a (to my eyes) sardonic photograph near the beginning of the series that depicts a white Hindustan Ambassador at the absolute centre of a dead, heavy, landscape…[this car] helps us understand that his accomplishment is not so much to provide a way into Jharia since his images eschew the specific temporal and spatial precision of much photography. He (Sen) clearly uses his camera to provide a different pathway, away into the future, which is not only India’s, a future that has already begun, and which has no end.”
‘Fire Continuum’ is on view at Mumbai’s Tarq Gallery from 24 August to 29 September