Speaking with Pictures
Folk Art and the Narrative Tradition in India
Routledge India – 2012
Series: Critical Asian Studies
Speaking with Pictures is a path-breaking exploration of visual narratives in folk art. Instead of talking of the recovery of narrativity in Indian modernism through the idiom of folk art, as art critics sometimes do, this book foregrounds folk art’s engagement with modernity by re-looking at its figurative modes and the ways in which they are embedded in mythic thought.
It discusses folk art as a contemporary phenomenon which is a part of a complex visual culture where the ‘essence’ of tradition is best captured in a ‘new’ form or medium. Each chapter picks up a theme that moves between the local and the global, thereby attempting to problematise the stereotypical view of folk artists as carriers of ‘timeless tradition’. An ethnographic account of innovations that have been taking place in the folk arts is offered through a detailed analysis of the scroll painting tradition of the patuas of West Bengal and the Pardhan-Gond style of Madhya Pradesh, highlighting some recent attempts at inter-medium exchange in storytelling, such as the use of Gond art for animation and graphic novels in the patua style.
The book will interest those in visual and popular culture in anthropology, sociology, literary criticism and folklore. It will also be of immense value to art historians, museologists, curators and NGOs working in media and communication, apart from those with a general interest in folk art.
List of Plates. Glossary. Acknowledgements. 1. Folk Art: What kind of Object is it? 2. Global Events and Local Narratives: 9/11 and the Chitrakars 3. Words and Images: Storytelling in Gond 4. Patua Art and the Graphic Novel: An Experiment in Intertextual Communication 5. Conclusion: Pictures and Myths. Bibliography. Appendix I: People of Ancient Times. Appendix II: The Chameleon’s Dreams. Appendix IIIa: The Story of Ramayana. Appendix IIIb: Abduction of Sita. Appendix IV: Sita Harana. About the Author. Index
Roma Chatterji is Professor, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi.