1.26.2014

Akshay Mahajan - I don't want to sleep alone
















































































 
Young wavering photojournalists, such as myself, often go in search of pictures with a sometimes wanton thirst. I moved cities (Bombay to Bangalore), living my days out of cheap bus-stand lodges or friends’ apartments, and nights drinking outside cheap standing bars on Church Street. Anything  that provokes narrative. I thought like Nan Goldin or Anders Peitersen , I'll make pictures representing the transgressions of young urban dwellers. Faltering, I met Joshua Muyiwa (http://joshuamuyiwa.tumblr.com/), a half Nigerian one-fourth Malyali one-fourth Nepalese queer poet and dance writer and found a subject. Initially I fell into the classical tropes - most photojournalists do, one of story-hooks, who, when and where's - Indian urban queer living in the post 377 world etc. I realized that if I pigeon-holed the people I took pictures off in the delusion that I am some purveyor of truth it would be such a simplification of the truth that it would far from it. So I abandoned the approach fairly quickly. Instead I just concentrated on them as people who happen to be queer - in many ways this how they wanted to be perceived - who wants their body politic sewn onto their breast like a badge. Plus there so much more to photograph then the obvious - the obvious things to photograph are the most boring.

Over the next year — furtive conversations over cheap whiskey at watering holes, words punctuated by drags of cigarettes and post-ganja confessions in bedrooms — I made pictures of his friends (who were now my friends), teasing out nuggets of a story. Rolls of film fed by curiosity. As Goldin put it, “It’s the form of photography that is most defined by love. People… take them to remember people”.

Lines blur when you immerse yourself in the thoughts and emotions of our subjects. At first you are a stranger and the camera is viewed with suspicion but people are naturally curious of you - so they let the strange kid with the camera be. After a while they don't even notice it,"Don't mind him he's a little weird, he takes pictures of everything." After a while its hard to separate the self from your subject and in the end you yourself become indistinguishable to yourself.
There was a love there born out of a long-standing relationship between the observer and the subject. One of those destructive loves that fed on the act of creation, I had my photographs Joshua had his poetry - once the pictures stopped so did the poetry and love lingered for a while and then slowly dissipated. It's one of the reasons the body of work is called "I don't want to sleep alone" -  an Indian ballad of  twenty something emotional and sexual dependencies