Church, Mosque and State
Culture and belief often are often expressed through visual codes. The origin and meaning of these codes are full of rich influences driven by historical evolution, invasions and colonization of societies combined with ideas of modernity, status and progress.
The Indian state of Kerala possesses many unique visual messages combining the influences of Portuguese colonization and Christianity with architecture and beliefs of Islam, both through historical settlement and the contemporary influences of modern day migration and trade with the Persian Gulf.
Although Hinduism remains more widely practiced in Kerala, both Christianity and Islam are significant populations and their visual presence through the architecture of places of worship has evolved into its own particular and unique statement. These visual codes tell the story of a complex subcontinent distinctly different from the typical associations of India with Hindu deities, Mughal palaces and British colonial architecture.
As both belief systems are migratory to the region they bring with them the ideas and interpretations of the old along with a healthy dose of Indian modernism and assimilation with the natural beauty and colour of the region. When separated from its source or origin, an idea begins to evolve into a new form. New strains can be seen in the Keralan edifices of belief or even in the way the Indian tradition of Yoga is now practiced globally through the development of new branches.
New interpretations of ideas and styles are a healthy component of today’s global landscape where ideas are free to flow west to east and east to west. Co-existence and pluralism can weave the fabric of our visual landscape as much as they do in other domains of life.