Existence – An Ocean Within, photo essay by Debmalya Ray Choudhuri
Art is a form of nourishment, (of consciousness, of our spirit) – Susan Sontag
In the world, that lives on the ever increasing fervor of consumerism, what does it really mean to be alive? We exist as mortals, perhaps, the most intelligent of all species on Earth but how many of us merely “exist” and not “live”?
The desire for power and the need for more often leads us to losing ourselves somewhere deep down, leaving no time to introspect, to love and to rise above negative energy .
Padmasana – a word whose origins are in Sanskrit is a form of basic yoga often performed to attain salvation through meditation. Through a string of images weaved together with the use of black and white medium, a meditative state of mind is reflected. These pictures offer an insight into the vulnerabilities of our existence, fears deeply rooted in our sub-conscious and shows man in his most lonesome moments ,in the lap of nature. They bear a semblance of isolation, a subtle hint at the peace that comes with it as a gift. We realize how minuscule our self is in contrast to an ever expanding universe. To practice art is to engage in a conversation with the self, to meditate, to introspect. This personal narrative aims at doing just that, by asking questions and provoking a calm at one moment and chaos at the other, targeting our fears, addressing our broken dreams, desires and calls for an emotional transcendence.
The series talks about the visual padmasana that often helps people escape from the morass, makes us appreciate nature and our state of being. It subtly makes us feel at peace within ourselves: an uncanny calm that we feel often staring at the infinite expanse of the ocean. The human mind is also like the ocean existing with its caprice: moments of jubilation coupled with moments of despondency: slowly ebbing ,then rising to a catharsis and back, a cycle that continues as long as our soul lives. The pictures follow a very personal and non linear way of celebrating this with an attempt to bridge the gap between what we perceive to be the real around us and the dreams where we lose ourselves .
To photograph for me, is also to cogitate and to ask questions. These extracts are open ended dialogues leaving much to think for the viewer. I cannot limit my photography to the confines of set aesthetics and rules as I believe that photography is like Life. One need not confine it but let it flow and evolve through the journey.
This is the start of a journey, a revelation for myself and how art has changed my life, transitioning the self from a chaotic mind to a content one. The pursuit of art has led me to confront my fears, embrace the grace of existence and tread unknown territories. Most of the pictures have also been made at the sea as the vast ocean bears the answer to several mysteries, the unspoken and the unknown and is as deep as the human mind is. It also talks about longing, love, intimacy and yet glorifies Isolation as a trait ubiquitous and evident in our existence.
This would be a part of my most personal ongoing photo book project, Existence – An Ocean Within: a tribute to my lover, an artist herself – a person who believes that Art cannot be restricted to just a thing, but can only be perceived as a way of Life. This series aims to delve deep into the relationship of humans with the environment, both around him and within him, by using an emotional context with a very poetic and abstract form of visual narrative. (by Debmalya Ray Choudhuri)