Photography series showcases LGBTQ community's deepest amorous desires

Updated: Feb 11, 2018, 12:03 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

In his series, Full Moon in a Dark Night, photographer Soumya Sankar Bose gets the queer community to share their deepest amorous desires

The two friends said like all "other" couples, their only desire was to take a picture in the bedroom. One of them wears flowers, to maybe signify he is the 'female' of the two. I didn't direct them, but listened to them about how they wanted to be seen.
The two friends said like all "other" couples, their only desire was to take a picture in the bedroom. One of them wears flowers, to maybe signify he is the 'female' of the two. I didn't direct them, but listened to them about how they wanted to be seen.

The underlying theme that ties these photographs is to give the LGBTQ community in India a chance to express their desires," says Kolkata-based photographer Soumya Sankar Bose of his series, Full Moon in a Dark Night, supported by the Magnum Foundation's Social Justice Fellowship. "Because of Section 377 of the IPC [which criminalises homosexuality in India], they are not allowed to really put their desires and wants out there, so I wanted to create a world where their dreams come true," says Bose of the project that he started working on two-and-a-half-years ago.

This friend had a deep desire to go to Sikkim and pose with the Himalayas. Here, he is almost like an angel, reaching out for the skies, maybe trying to escape from society. But I don't like to explain the photograph too much; I want the viewers to make their own assumptions.
This friend had a deep desire to go to Sikkim and pose with the Himalayas. Here, he is almost like an angel, reaching out for the skies, maybe trying to escape from society. But I don't like to explain the photograph too much; I want the viewers to make their own assumptions.

It started, he says, when a homosexual friend told him her story about the kind of dreams she used to get, which brought up questions such as "was it a crime to love a girl"? He then met more people, and convinced them to share their stories.

One of my friends used to tell me about her dreams. For the last 16 years, she dreamt of sitting on a chair beside a window in the room in which her sister had died. In the dream, she had just returned home from an unknown war while a dead body lay in the bed. The identity of the dead character was never clear to her. Was it her lover? Her sister? Maybe her mother? Why was she projecting herself as a warrior in her dream? Was it because she has been fighting for acceptance? Or was it because her mother always told her that it's a crime for a woman to love another woman? What was evident about her dream was the anxiety she faced in pursuing the love of her choice.
One of my friends used to tell me about her dreams. For the last 16 years, she dreamt of sitting on a chair beside a window in the room in which her sister had died. In the dream, she had just returned home from an unknown war while a dead body lay in the bed. The identity of the dead character was never clear to her. Was it her lover? Her sister? Maybe her mother? Why was she projecting herself as a warrior in her dream? Was it because she has been fighting for acceptance? Or was it because her mother always told her that it's a crime for a woman to love another woman? What was evident about her dream was the anxiety she faced in pursuing the love of her choice.

"It has taken so long to do this because I needed to get them comfortable with me. Each picture took around three months to execute." The pictures - he shot 20 people, across 40 locations - are sometimes romantic, many times disturbing, but all the time beautiful. "The scenes and characters in these images recreate the sketches my friends drew throughout their lives. I am trying to maintain space where viewers are privy to my subjects' desires, but can't violate their privacy." The 27-year-old artist, who is represented by New York-based gallery sepiaEYE, will be showing his works at a solo show in Texas on March 9 and at the Experimenter (Kolkata) on March 17. He spoke to us about the stories behind three photographs, before saying, "I can't change the law, but I can offer them some relief."

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