Poulomi Basu’s Centralia is an exploration of the war between the Indian government and indigenous people fighting under the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA). This ongoing conflict, which flies largely under the radar of the global media, encompases political beliefs, alongside issues of environmental justice, natural resources, economics and gender inequality.
The opposing narratives of the government and insurgents evolve through Basu’s complex image selection. The journey into the conflict is anchored by landscapes that are militarised in one way or another, producing an almost-apocalyptic beauty. Basu, who works in both photography and film, creates a filmic ambience by including nocturnal shots that almost appear to be in motion and contrasting those with vernacular materials and found film stills. Her work has engaged with gender inequality throughout her career, and in Centralia she combines portraits of female PLGA members – who are thought to make up 60% of the organisation – with pixelated mugshots of female guerilla fighters.
Centralia is a portrait of contemporary India, a twisted spin on classical documentary photography that draws attention to a multilayered conflict in which everyone seems to lose.
Basu was born and raised in Calcutta in 1983 and is currently living in London.