I failed at being one of the alpha jock boys— leather jackets, cool shades, obsessed with sports, and video games. I was bullied and made fun of in school for being too feminine as I played the piano, sang in the choir, flaunted my long hair, and was a disaster at every sport. Luckily, I grew up to not cave into biases and conformities based on gender binaries. For years I struggled with body image issues. I began experimenting with nude self-portraits since I was a school-going boy before I became familiar with the term. By being in a room by myself, I became my own director and began to construct narratives that left the realms of an adolescent boy. The photographs I made also presented me with a lot of mockery from peers, college faculty, and my parents. Many even call me a ‘nudist’. Simply given the vulnerability of the process, to compose me in a constantly shifting environment, one results with a repository bigger than any commercial portfolio. Past few years I’ve been travelling. I find hotel rooms fascinating. They are all the same and yet so different from each other in how they make you feel. Travelling alone gives you the headspace to immerse yourself into this “private” space that you occupy temporarily. The general idea of the room is pretty simple, but the finer details of how my mood and skin react to this space are influenced by location, weather, and most often the budget. I find a sense of calmness in these rooms as though I was in a gigantic box made up of mirrors: all these perceptions are my own and how I look at myself. Today, I am more aware of how my body looks, what makes me look commercially appealing and/or what makes me feel naturally comfortable, and how much I have changed physically and mentally through these rooms. Mirrors are often a projection of who we want to see ourselves as, while these photographs facilitate how we truly are. As a viewer and a creator, this process helped me a great deal to overcome my insecurities over the past decade. The medium of photography seldom presents itself with subtlety or ease. The camera, to me, became the way I emote. However, the camera is also a tool that presents everything in a way where the story can be often missed out or severely distorted. And intimacy with such art comes with layers of complexities, especially in documenting myself.
Ankit Banerjee is an independent artist based out of Pondicherry, India. A graduate in Economics and Statistics also a self-taught commercial photographer working in the domains of people, spaces, and lifestyles. The medium of photography seldom presents itself with subtlety, as the camera is capable of severely distorting our worldview. Through a decade of making photographs, the process enabled me to access varied walks of life and became my way of emoting. Intimacy with such an art form posed a life of endless travel and complexities, which I have come to enjoy. I aim to create work that is relevant and adds value to people and society overall.