Poulomi Basu – Centralia
Dewi Lewis 2019
Winner 2020 Rencontres d’Arles Discovery Award
Winner 2020 Singapore International Photo Festival Photobook Award National Geographic Explorer Award 2020
Shortlisted for the 2021 Deutsche Börse Award
Selected by 1000 words – best photobooks of 2020
Centralia exposes hidden crimes of war as an indigenous people fight for their survival. In war, truth is the first casualty and Centralia explores the unsteady relationship between reality and fiction and how our perceptions of reality and truth are manipulated.
Combining tropes of documentary and fiction, art historian Emilia Terracciano, writing in 1000words magazine, has called Centralia a ‘hallucinatory reflection’ where an invisible conflict between a guerilla army, an indigenous people and the Indian state is associated with wider issues of environmental degradation. Such exploitation comes at a price: the transmogrification of violence into the de-facto language of politics. The voice of resistance is buried by alternate facts. Freedom is shrinking and what we say and who we are is being obscured.
Poulomi Basu is an Indian transmedia artist, photographer and activist. Widely published and exhibited, her work explores the way in which the formation of identity becomes entwined with geopolitics, revealing the hidden power structures buried deep within our societies. In 2018 the Centralia work was recognised through the award of the Photographic Museum of Humanity Grant Main Prize. A Magnum Foundation Social Justice Fellow and grantee, Poulomi is known for advocating the rights of women through her work and in 2019 Amnesty International noted her as an important and brilliant ‘human rights activist’. She also featured on ‘The Conversation’ (BBC World Service) alongside Lynsey Addario as one of the most significant contemporary war photographers. Her immersive VR films, Blood Speaks, are collected and distributed by the Tribeca Film Institute.