Flatland A Landscape of Punjab
Flatland A Landscape of Punjab is a major body of work (2003-2007), published by Dewi Lewis Publishing 2007. The book contains forty-two images, a forward by Kandhola with a commissioned essay by Indian academic Dr Alka Pande.
Flatland has been exhibited in Impressions Gallery Bradford, England April 2010; PhotoInk Delhi, India Sept 2009; Central European House of Photography, Bratislava, Slovakia 2009; China 2008; Korea 2008; Arles, France 2007; Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside, University of Nottingham 2007; Continued critical reviews, Source Magazine, Belfast 2010; British Journal of Photography UK 2007; Portfolio magazine 2009 featured Flatland A Landscape of Punjab in its 50th edition representing 50 significant British Photographers over the past 25 years.
Max Kandhola decided to go back to Punjab after completing his project Illustration of Life (2002) in which he documented his father’s last moments of life, and reflected on issues within Sikh ritual, immortality and death.
Over a period of four years (2003-2007), Max Kandhola has documented aspects of the Punjab landscape, as part of a continuing project to map family history through an odyssey of ancestral narratives, exploring memory, diaspora and identity.
The Punjab is the land of the five rivers, five (Punj) rivers (Aab). Using a back-drop of uncharted villages, Kandhola has used the location of the rivers and the surrounding landscape metaphorically to discuss aspects of Sikh Diaspora. Kandhola’s photographs avoid the usual iconographic pictorial references to culture and ethnicity associated with representations of India.
He reframes the Punjabi terrain in the idiom of traditional English and European landscape, and through his experience of the particular investment in suburban gardens or allotments that overlap the English tradition with the Diasporic Punjabi’s relation to his displaced homeland. The absence of figures is a metaphor for that Disaporic Punjabi, whose memory and human presence is visibly etched through the legacy of farming and agriculture on the surface of the land. The photographs, made in the twilight zones of early morning or evening, constitute a photographic discourse of isolation and arcadia, a mythological fantasy of sacred, rugged terrain surrounded by meadows and pastoral land rather than the reality of urban city life.