Kerala Folk Tales Meet Sci-Fi in Vimal Chandran’s NFT Series


Palakkad artist Vimal Chandran reinvents characters from Kerala folklore in a sci-fi setting for his new digital series, drawn from a child’s perspective

It’s like a half-forgotten dream. A sickle-wielding oracle, a schoolboy, a cluster of areca nut trees and leaping roosters on either side. Artist Vimal Chandran picks up memories of a childhood in Palakkad and places them in a world where alien creatures rise from the seas and descend from the sky.

When the pandemic struck last year and Vimal left Bengaluru to return to his hometown of Kerala, after a 15-year hiatus, he rediscovered the folklore, myths, temple figures and superstitions of the village. he had heard in his childhood. These vivid visuals creep into his ongoing art series, Folk SciFi.

“I reimagine characters from our indigenous traditions in a sci-fi environment. These are unreal stories about real people in real places, ”he says.

The works of art are 12 second animations, flashing like glitches in the matrix to ominous music. The colors – dreamlike and surrealistic – remain in the spectrum of blues and grays.

In The Visit, Vimal tells the story of Pootham, a poltergeist who goes from house to house in search of a little boy to whom he has become attached. Artists from Kerala play this character, visiting houses in villages after the summer harvest, and it is the memory of meeting one of these “Poothams” on a summer evening by the Nila river. that Vimal captures.

Vimal Chandran's visit

Vimal Chandran’s visit

In its interpretation, the Pootham hovers miles above the boy and his mother, as if it had detached itself from a passing UFO. This perspective – of a great mythical creature looking at a child – continues in all the works; whether it is the huge wooden horses of Kuthira Vela or the character of Darike, the traditional theatrical battle between Darike and Kali. “As a child, these characters seemed scary and fascinating to me at the same time. There was always a certain level of trepidation seeing their painted faces and unusual appearances, but at the same time, they were so vibrant and majestic that I couldn’t help but stare at them, ”he says.

Vimal brings these memories back in the style of magical realism, clubbing him with his interest in science fiction – something that blossomed when he fell in love with the Russian magazine. Micha in a communist Kerala of the 80s and 90s.

Artist Vimal Chandran

Four of the seven artworks have been released and sold so far, as NFT, on the WazirX Marketplace. “I wanted to tell unique stories from my homeland, stories that have been passed down for generations,” says Vimal. “These are 4,000-year-old stories on the blockchain for the first time, and I’m interested because once up there, they will live on forever.”

A big supporter of the NFT space, he says creating an NFT makes it easier to create tokens and sell genuine copies of his digital work. “I’m not limited by the 2D canvas, I can explore animation and sound, and collaborate with different artists. Also, traditionally, I would not have had control of my work once I sold it. But that way I can also track secondary sales and get royalties every time, ”he says. “Whoever has started investing in it is already one step ahead. “

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