Debmalya Ray Choudhuri

Fragments of a Dying Man

Debmalya Ray Choudhuri is a visual artist and writer from India, currently based in New York. He uses performance, writing and photography in his work. He deals with the themes of the “queerness” of desire, love, and identity using a very personal and intense approach. He sees photography as an interface with the world, a way to confront it, a way to desire and define his own position. His practice has its roots in the need to take distance from the chaos of the surroundings, and get intimate, physically and emotionally, in places where the hunt is more lyrical, delicate, sometimes strong and operating in the region between fear and desire. Over time, the creative practice has naturally flowed from finding a sense of belonging to one place, to connecting to people by establishing closeness to one person at a time. The lines between the subject and the photographer are blurred and fluid in his work. These dual conversations open new perspectives on the relationship between the self and the other. Deb has published and shown work across both renowned national and international platforms and is currently working on his first book.

Fragments of a dying man 

Confronting tuberculosis at the age of 17 forced me to live a life in isolation for a long period of time--part of which was associated with stigma; part with my own fear and shame of not having lived fully and losing time.  After the suicide of a lover, to live again was the only way out. 

Tragedies shape the human in you.

The act of photography is a pretext to getting closer. To continue living a dual life: One, in a vulnerable position of solitude. The other, within the personal space of strangers. Some stay. Some fade away.

Fragments of the Dying Man is a diary of fragility, loss, and desire. It oscillates between Isolation and Intimacy.  Day and Night. What is in control and what’s not. The lines are blurred.

This journey passes through lands that are vast yet confined with so little happening, looking outside for a semblance of love and sometimes inside, often photographed by strangers surrendering to their will. At the end are my encounters with strangers with whom I share moments, during my wanderings. Those that gave me a shelter, those like me. Encounters and spaces. Confined, intimate, and visceral. Much like me, everyone I desire through an image lives a life of ambiguity. Someone is an androgynous erotic performer, someone a “cam girl”, someone is a stigmatized sex worker, someone works an odd job, only to survive in a fast-changing capitalist society that is slowly consuming us all. Some have been abused sexually, some bullied, some in a deep sense of anguish, exploding through the feeling of desire and being desired.  Bound together through the logic of the lure.

 

Photographing leads people to share their most intimate experiences and some break down in the process.

How photography creates a fiction around us?? Me and the other, and how through this fiction, of promiscuous exchanges, we get closer to understanding what it means to be here. A subtle vulnerability that becomes the symbol of an unspoken strength and sexual power.

The camera is the protagonist, subjecting me and those around me to a vulnerable position of solitude and a way of identifying with our body and sexuality- a vessel to recognize our being in the world. Confronting the dichotomies of our position. In its experience with the “queer” body, desire, and space, this journey strives to look beyond the “presupposed zones of identity and representation, to think of the anonymous, erotic and uncertain forms of “sociality” " - death, disappearance and the fragmentary passage of people and places. 

Through this, I try to live up to my own questioning of desire and the inarticulate form that sits between proximity and promiscuity and is, maybe called love. I challenge myself and question to exist in what I call the “economy of desire”.

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