Cristian Castelnuovo - Fotografo

Churches of Kerala

A fascinating photographic essay by Cristian Castelnuovo exploring the mysterious world of Christianity in Kerala
by Cristian Castelnuovo

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Project Description

Churches of Kerala is a fascinating photographic essay and travelogue exploring the mysterious world of Christianity in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

The author – part of an adventurous duo who set off on a journey to reveal a facet of the subcontinent that is not widely known in the Western world – is the renowned Anglo-Italian photographer Cristian Castelnuovo, who was helped along his quest by the late Henry Brownrigg, a reputed expert in and dealer of South Asian art, and acknowledged provider of artifacts from the region to the British Museum.

Cristian Castelnuovo - Churches Of Kerala - Crowdbooks Publishing

This unlikely pairing gift the reader with a perfect coffee-table book that is both stunningly beautiful in its images and thought-provoking in its conjuring up an environment rich in contradictions and mystery.

At the heart of the volume’s uniqueness is its perfect blend of text and images, as words alone cannot account for the amazement and bewilderment a reader-cum-viewer can experience at seeing images of apparently Christian Orthodox rituals in an obviously South Asian context. Such visual displacement lies at the very heart of the fascinating story told by Mr Castelnuovo’s pictures.

Cristian Castelnuovo - Churches Of Kerala - Crowdbooks Publishing

Indeed, much like in the relatively nearby Goa, Christianity represents a sizeable religious minority in Kerala, just short of 20%, to Goa’s roughly 25%. However, while the Christian presence in Goa is well documented and with clear origins – the state used to be a Portuguese colony – the origins of Christianity in Kerala are shrouded in mystery and myth.

Cristian Castelnuovo - Churches Of Kerala - Crowdbooks Publishing

According to legend, the Christian religion was brought to the shores of Kerala by St. Thomas, the “doubting apostle”, who is said to have founded “seven and a half churches” there. From these semi-mythical origins, a quite independent version of Christianity developed in Kerala, one broadly based on an iconoclastic version of Syriac rites, until the Portuguese landed in the late XV century. The European invaders’ attempt to impose papal allegiance caused rifts within the St. Thomas Christians – as the Christians of Kerala are known to this day – ultimately ending in the Churches of Kerala currently representing virtually all current denominations of Christianity.

Cristian Castelnuovo - Churches Of Kerala - Crowdbooks Publishing

Though such complex and uncertain history can only be sketched roughly in this introduction, Mr Castelnuovo manages to take us by hand on his journey, allowing us to delve into an ancient tradition that reveals quite how fascinatingly globalized and interconnected our planet has always been.

Last but not least, this essential volume also serves as key historical record, as some of the churches of Kerala masterfully portrayed by Castelnuovo no longer exist, having been recently demolished to be replaced by more functional buildings.

Cristian Castelnuovo - Churches Of Kerala - Crowdbooks Publishing

In other words, thanks to Mr Castelnuovo we can enjoy a vivid snapshot of a thriving and ever-developing community as well as a complete journey through all the most important churches of Kerala.

Cristian Castelnuovo - Churches Of Kerala - Crowdbooks Publishing

Book Specifications

Cover:Hard Cover
Language:Italiano, English
ISBN: 9788885608610
Category: architettura, Photobooks, Racconti Fotografici

Author Informations

NameCristian Castelnuovo
Country Italia


Cristian Castelnuovo born in 1977, is an award winning photographer and video maker. He graduated with an MA in Photographic Arts at Westminster University and has undertaken photographic and video works worldwide in the fields of Art, Fashion, Politics and Architecture.

One of his photographs was sold at Sotheby’s auction in Pac Milan in 2015. Cristian Castelnuovo has worked with many contemporary artists and architects like Maurizio Cattelan, Subodh Gupta and Norman Foster. In 2003 he joined Grazia Neri photo agency, then Massimo Sestini News Pictures.

In 2006 he worked for the National Press Agency Ansa and won the Celeste Art Price. In 2007 he was a weekly contributing editor for Corriere della Sera, worked for Mediaset and other Tv broadcasters. Throughout his professional career to date, he has around 50 assigned cover stories and over 300 magazines assignments.

He has participated in more than 30 international art shows and fairs. In 2009 he exhibited at ArteLaguna Art Price in Giardini della Biennale in Venice. In 2012 he privately met and photographed the Dalai Lama, this work received an honorable mention at the IPA International Photographic Awards. In 2013 he photographed exclusively and for the first time the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta at work at Palazzo Chigi in Rome.

Since 2014 he stared working with Angelsign Studio as a D.o.p. In 2014 he joined Cesura a group of war photojournalists.

In 2015 he was invited to show at Mumbai’s Focus Photography International Festival. In 2016 he published the monographic book on artist Lodovica Comello, translated in different languages and published by Rizzoli. He has also created, visual advertising for TV satellite broadcaster Sky.

In 2017 he founds the Centro Fotografico Cagliari in Sardegna, where he host international photography exhibitions.

He lives in Cagliari Italy and keeps working around the world.

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