07 May 2016

Parallel possibilities

I've been working on this photo series for the last few months, though really the images that went into it represent my life and its wanderings over a span of a quite-eventful five years. The travel aspect - the photos were all taken in different places - also reflects the journey I've taken during this period, in many ways a formative phase of my life. It was exciting and liberating to develop a new visual language after feeling a bit stuck; this series is unlike anything I've done before.

It comes from duos: the style combines the self-portrait (what better way to express vulnerability and the performative self?) with double exposures (but a certain kind of double exposures, a co-mingling of me and my environments in a way that make it obvious that these are two different images meant to exist separately but that could come together and collaborate in unusual ways). The inspiration is twofold as well: partly the work of Jena Malone, whose feed I follow and admire; and partly this quote from The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories:

I'm constantly surrounded
by ghosts of all my
parallel possibilities.

It was only later that I realised that the illustration for this little story in the book also employs a similar layered illustration...

Through this series I attempt to explore the anxiousness that comes from wondering what else life could be; the potential of the self, and the realisation that we may never reach it; the thirst for more; the fragmented self; the questions I deal with on a daily basis; the constant grappling with things that are the hallmark of a hyperactive mind; but also the search and the answers that culminate in calm and creativity and balance.


1 Distraction

01  Distraction

Paris 2012 / Delhi 2014

"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Is distraction a precursor to creating something? Yes, focus is important, but there is so much beauty in the world, and so much pain, and those too sensitive to ignore it. Letting myself be swayed by powerful emotion is important, because that's what compels me to create. It's also okay to have non-productive days, or frenzied-anxious ones, or spend weeks just thinking and writing. I remind myself to keep the channels open; stories are everywhere.


2 Responsibility

02  Responsibility

Delhi 2011 / 2015

"There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond this, there is unrest. There is great unrest." - Julian Barnes

For all of us who feel hounded by, and yet proud of, responsibility; and who choose the thorny passionate paths for the love of something.


3 Tunnel

03  Tunnel

Delhi 2014 / Athens 2015

"Not all who wander are aimless." - Mona Lisa Smile

There are people who live life like they're chasing the light at the end of a tunnel; in a straight line, in a narrow enclosed space, taking one step after the other because they're too afraid of the dark. And then there are those who willingly enter the maze, in which there will be hardship and unpredictability and detours and dead ends and despair and questing - in which there will be adventures, and failures, and the best stories.


4 Adapt

04  Adapt

London 2012 / Singapore 2014

"Like flowing water, the world passes through you and lends you its colours for a while." - Nicolas Bouvier

Sometimes I struggle with the feeling of unbelonging. We all have those moments, those places, where we feel like misfits. But I'm getting better at reminding myself that it's okay to have moments of dissatisfaction with where I am, or if somewhere I longed to be didn't quite turn out the way I thought it would, because eventually you adapt and everything gets better, and even if it's not quite paradise, you learn to make the most of where you are.


5 Night

05  Quester

London 2011

"Everywhere you go becomes a part of you somehow." - Anita Desai

A few years ago, perched on a wall in Bloomsbury on a summer's day in London, I was talking to a guy who said that it was strange how people always wonder where they'll "end up", because really there's only one end, and until then, we're all moving from one thing to another, inward or outward. I've thought about those words often, when I felt like time was not on my side. There will, I hope, always be something to move towards, something to be excited about, or something to bumble through while enjoying the ride. And all of the things we've seen and places we've been make us who we are.


6 Fly

06  Fly

Delhi / Himachal 2011

"S/he who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." - Friedrich Nietzsche

In some ways I am an impatient person: I dream big, and vividly, and then despair because I don't think those dreams will ever come true. I'm always trying to do too much and be too much, and I have to remind myself that it's important to appreciate the present and everything will come in its own time. But that doesn't mean complacency, and it doesn't mean settling. It means doing the best you can, and chasing your dreams, and that no dream arrives by night but through a foundation you've worked long and hard at building. And realising that sometimes, time is on your side.


7 Passion

07  Passion

London 2012 / Santorini 2015

"Find what you love and let it kill you." - Charles Bukowski

We all have those things we stay up nights for, sometimes because we're just procrastinators, but sometimes because that's the hour when inspiration strikes and the world is quiet and you've just got to go with it when it's there. With dark circles and no regrets. It's a wonderful thing to find something you're passionate about and be able to make your living off it - which has its downsides too, but I'd rather be doing it than not. But there are also practicalities and responsibilities to making a living (I'm not taking Bukowski literally here), and I think the key is, as with everything in life, balance.


8 Elsewhereness

08  Elsewhereness

Singapore 2014 / Delhi 2015

"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliot

There are many times when I lapse into daydreams of somewhere else. I spent a good part of 2014 with one foot here and one elsewhere. It nearly tore me apart. That was a lesson in the importance of mindfulness, and I still often forget it, but it's becoming easier to pull my mind back to here, to let the longing fall away, and to remind myself that there's a time and place for everything.


9 Aloneness

09  Solitude

Delhi 2010

"We live as we dream -- alone." - Joseph Conrad

I've done many things by myself, from going to a restaurant (you kind of have to if you're out and hungry, but it's also fun with a book!) and a concert to travelling in several countries. I can make myself laugh, and I have pretty interesting conversations with myself. If I'm honest, the reason I travel solo is usually because there's no one to travel with, but I've come to enjoy its perks and be grateful for being able to appreciate my own company. It's empowering and wonderful to be friends with yourself. If I can't stand to be alone, what does that say about me? If I don't enjoy my own company, why will someone else? That's not to say I don't need people; being alone and being lonely are different things. But it's helped me to realise I don't need someone to complete me; I am whole.


10 Catharsis

10  Catharsis

Delhi 2011 / 2015

"Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living." - Jonathan Safran Foer

Writing in a journal is my catharsis. I've been doing it since I was 13, though it has taken a different importance in the last couple of years. Re-reading old journals is like discovering parts of myself I'd almost lost. It makes me realise how much of our lives we forget. I write to deal with anxiety, among other things. Last year, during some especially difficult months when everything in my mind seemed out of control, spilling myself onto a page helped. It's not enough by itself but sometimes giving thoughts a form can make them less...toxic.

***

Parallel Possibilities - The Playlist

01 Was There Nothing? - Ásgeir | 02 Stay Alive - José González | 03 Defying Gravity - Wicked (Louise Dearman) | 04 Up&Up - Coldplay | 05 River Flows in You - Yiruma | 06 Ryan's Song - Ethan Hawke | 07 Revolution - Diplo ft. Faustix & Imanos and Kai | 08 Drops of Jupiter - Train | 09 Video - India.Arie | 10 Lost Stars - Keira Knightley 


1 comment:

  1. Lovely pictures and the text as always, is interesting

    ReplyDelete

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