It is Abul’s search for his own cultural roots that urged him to work for a protracted period on this epic. Born in a progressive Tamil Muslim family, Abul’s work often question the impact of geographical divisions and religious disparities. The tri-sangam period Tamilakam as mentioned in Silappatikaram was characterized by the coexistence of people from different faiths and religions. By delving deeper into this epic and focusing on people from different religious, class and caste backgrounds, the photographer boldly raises the issue of ‘identity’ that greatly affects contemporary Indian society.
Visual arts works based on scriptures have, for long, been illustrative. Michelangelo’s work in Sistine Chapel and the Indian miniature painters are examples of this tradition. The visuals from “Black Mother”, by contrast, are representative of the contemporary society and its people, just as the characters in Silappatikaram are bound to have been derived from the immediate surroundings of that age. The characters and landscapes described in the epic are only metaphorically depicted in these intense monochrome images. This project is ongoing and the proposed multi-color photobook will have 250 pages, fully illustrated and printed in hard and soft bound.