“Divided lives, then and now” 2008
Acrylic on wood
India has been the subject of much exoticism, a fact well argued my Edward Said in his milestone work, Orientalism (1978). In his seminal piece Said wrote, “As a cultural apparatus Orientalism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to-truth, and knowledge” (Orientalism, p. 204)—which is why F M Coleman’s Typical Pictures of Indian Natives is not an innocuous document. The ‘popular’ chart was a collection of hand-tinted photographs of the Gorgeous East. It categorized the inhabitants by caste, region and occupation and was an exercise in stereotypical exoticism. In the artists work, images from the chart have be recreated, along side the iconic image of his protagonist, rendered in muscle and bone as a generic image of humanity, shorn of all indications of caste, creed or religion.