Ark Saroj and Green Lantern Gallery present “Depression and Intimacy,” a collection of erotic photography in the form of an artist’s photo journal about his failure with long-term relationships, and how it triggered a transformation to pride and intimacy with his art. The show is at Bangkok’s Green Lantern Gallery from now through Jan. 10, 2021.
Ark Saroj began taking these photos in 2015 but kept them secret until 2018 when a significant but destructive long-term relationship ended. The artist then published some of the pictures on social media and named the series “Depression and Intimacy.” The underlying feelings of the work touch on jealousy, monogamy and notions of infidelity. It was a risk for Saroj to create erotic works while in a monogamous relationship, but he discovered that by ignoring these creative instincts the suppression of sexual energy would lead to lies, suspicion and unfaithfulness on many levels.
The earliest photographs in this exhibition came about from an arranged meeting on a dating app. The artist and his “muse” met in an infamous gay hotel in Bangkok, where the muse wanted to be photographed in sexy, daring outfits, suitable for eye-catching social media posts. The pictures the artist captured, however, reveal feelings of loneliness, depression and a desire to be loved—contemplations that reflected Saroj’s state of mind as well.
Saroj continued to “play with fire,” risking his own feelings in the process of artistic creation, feelings that affected his personal life as his long-term relationship ended. It was then that a transformation occurred in which Saroj began to experience intimacy in his work without guilt. His sexual and creative energies shifted to become more and more positive, free from suppression and resulting in a sense of pride in his photographic collection.
Ark Saroj’s muses are normal people, friends and lovers. He captures them with his single lens camera, relying on natural lights entering the space and creating intimate conversations around fear, insecurity and the muses’ visions of the world. Some of them agree to be naked in front of the camera as an antidote to self-hated; others rebuild their self-confidence through nude images after a heartbreak. Among his later subjects are travellers, ex-sex workers and men who are emotionally unstable. The intimacy of Saroj’s gaze creates trust, yielding moments of honesty and grace. These images are the result of what the artist calls “Photography Therapy.”
Ark Saroj believes that everyone wants intimacy. “Depression and Intimacy,” then, is a work of spiritual healing as a response to his own sadness. It is an exchange of sexual energy that creates special moments of fantasy, desire and closure for trauma on both sides. When sex becomes a positive energy, it unlocks life itself.
The action of sex is not as important as intimacy. It is the intimacy that brings self-respect and the respect towards each other—at the moment when the shutter clicks.
“Depression and Intimacy” by Art Saroj is at Green Lantern Gallery, Thonglor through Jan. 10, 2021.
For more information about Green Lantern Gallery in Thonglor, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/GreenLanternGallery/