Janaki Sekar's Photoseries 'Fallen King' Uses Land As A Metaphor For Memory & Longing

Janaki Sekar's Photoseries 'Fallen King' Uses Land As A Metaphor For Memory & Longing

"Using land as a metaphor for memory, we tried to depict an idea about a Fallen king who lost his land and people in a war. As he goes through his memory lane, he reminisces about what the country once was and how the act of war tore the beautiful reality."

Janani Sekar, concept note for the photo series 'Fallen Kings'

After viewing the photoseries Fallen King and reading its concept note, especially the title, the great Romantic Percy Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias was conjured up in mind. Ozymandias was the throne name for the Egyptian pharaoh, Rameses II, who had won countless battles and had an empire that stretched across vast lands. His victories brought forth upon him unchecked tyrannical hubris. He believed that his name would be immortalized in the pages of history as a legendary conqueror but ironically, he is mostly remembered for his famous defeat. However, the poem reveals that ages after his reign, a traveler discovers a sculpture of Ozymandias where his half-broken visage lies on the sand. Shelley’s poem drives home the fact that the nature of power is volatile and does not last forever. On the contrary, art is immortal and leaves a lasting impression for generations to come, as exemplified by the skill of the sculptor, who made Ozymandia’s statue, and also by the power of the words etched on the statue’s pedestal.

For eons, war has always been a bane to mankind. However, in history, while tyrannical monarchs like Ozymandias have purposefully waged war to satiate their military ambitions, on the flip side, some kings have had to unwillingly march to war to defend their kingdom and its people. To me, evocatively, the king in Hari’s photo series belongs to the latter category of monarchs. I’d like to imagine him not just another power-hungry king but a man who loved his subjects and homeland. He probably had to cross swords with a tyrant like Ozymandias to defend his kingdom but was unable to emerge victorious. His crown is gone and so are his people and with this identity of a king snatched away from him, he possesses nothing but memories of the past. As he traverses these lands, he reminiscences the golden days of his peaceful rule - his once bountiful lands with fertile rivers that probably lie barren and dry now. However, similar to how Shelley, through his poem, expounds on the immortalization that art brings, Hari, too, through the medium of photography, keeps alive the memory of this fallen king and his home.

Janaki Sekar's Photoseries 'Fallen King' Uses Land As A Metaphor For Memory & Longing
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I would like to step away a bit from all these parallelisms with Shelley’s poem and instead focus on how the photo series hits much closer to home through the nativity portrayed by the selection of the subject and their sartorial choice. This photo series is the brainchild of Janani Sekar, a stylist and creative director from Chennai, Tamilnadu. She delves deep into her own cultural identity and roots while conceptualizing this photo series and that vehemently shines through the series.


Photography by @haribnw

Model: @anbinkodi

Concept: @stay__slay