Talking about mental hillness, it’s just quite difficult, because first of all it means recognize the disease, but documenting it is even more difficult, because it means you are facing it. Through photos, too. We all sometimes feel empty inside us that make us feel dissatisfied and for some of us this strange feeling ends up submerging them.
I have often heard that the art is salvific and I have really believed that during certain moments of my life, but now I can affirm it with extreme certainty: look inside yourself the beauty and the happiness, let them take shape, search and find yourself in a place that, I don’t know how, we forgot to have … and to be. Because that’s how it is, we are a beautiful place that deserves to bloom again, an impetuous ocean looking for space, a house with the fireplace lit, a concert in the most beautiful theater of the world. And with art, we can not only remember it to ourself, but also to those who have stopped believe in it.
With the strength of a tiger, Ritam Talukdar, a press photographer freelance, but first of all a storyteller, shows us his soul with the series “Forms of mental illness”. After he was diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder and Depression, his life changed: he started talking on his own, he felt the burden of stress along with palpitation and chronic nervousness wherever he went, regardless of the situation. And moreover, he felt he was alone.
The awareness that this feeling was a condition faced by most people now days was the key to pushing him to face this project of self care through his photographic series. With “Forms of mental illness”, Ritam wants to show all the ways he sees his environment and his nature when he has anxiety attack.
What pushed you to share a such personal story through the photography? They are thorny subjects and they are often considered taboos of which it’s better not to speak.
For me this is a very personal project and the first intention of mine was to show the sufferings that we are all going through specially the youths at this very stage when they have to decide which way to go and what to do with their life. I left home very early to study and work, losing touch with my loved ones and finding myself alone And in search of the happiness, I became a loner and and an addict for quite a long time. That’s when I was diagnosed with depression and general anxiety disorder and that’s when I felt really alone. My past started to haunt me every single time. So I was always looking for a momentary bliss amidst all these chaotic situations of life which generally led me to get hold of a camera and document these moments which were really special for me as I knew that these situations in turn will help me to turn into a different person and a more mature one.
And then the awareness of not being the only one, and not being alone.
Till now I have always looked for ways to express myself through the photographs that I try to take. I believe this strange phenomenon of mine as a gift through which I am able to send messages in a sort of thought provocative way, that I am not the only one out there. People like us exist and this is a common scenario, currently faced by a lot of people. So I wanted this message to become a general message for each and everyone out there who are facing the same dilemmas in their life and just wanted to say that they are never alone.
The choice of the use of black and white, the strongly marked contrasts are just some of the techniques you use to convey the message, at first impact.
This is the first part of my project, and in this situation. I personally feel that there is no place for colors and everything is just measurable in terms of the pain that I have been part of since the last few years. Maybe that’s the reason I have focused on this style of editing. The pictures are just a part of my vision, the way I perceive the atmosphere to be and happiness occupies only a minimal part in it. But taking the pictures and bringing out that particular feeling is a way I taste the success in this specific project of mine. Though the second part of my project will also be in black and white but I am specifically relying on more dark contrasts this time to present the nightmarish like situation which will also have a haunting effect in it. As of now, I am still shooting and within the end of this year I promise to bring out the second chapter of mine. I am still looking for that particular moment when all of this will eventually end but situations are quite tough at this present moment.
How did the decision to leave your permanent work as a photographer of products and children have influenced your path in any way?
The fact that when all of these started I was still working. I was really the quietest one in my office and always considered myself to be an outcast. I never wanted sympathy from any one of the colleagues who by that time already came to know that something is wrong with me. They were always asking me “What is wrong with you?” and “Why don’t you talk with us?” and similar type of questions. At that time I understood that they will never understand me, no matter how much I tell them about my present situation. To them it was a general matter of curiosity and for me I was always looking for way out. Then I left my job and decided to go home. And I was already documenting my present situation at that time and studying various photographic projects and clinical books to find ways to represent this forms, that I am going through at that present moment. There could have been many ways I would have been successful in my life, but then if I would have never left this job, I wouldn’t have discovered a new me, the way I have managed to mold myself up in the present context. There’s always a positive and negative side to everything.
I wanted to focus on the captions of your photos, which help the viewer to unravel between dreams and nightmares with open eyes.
This is merely a subjective approach of mine towards a project that I have been doing for quite a long time. I am merely showing the situation of my mind at this moment through the plethora of caliginous feelings. These are all how I see my surroundings and the nature when I am down with anxiety attacks. I am searching for the eternal euphoria amidst all these construed illusions of the habitat existing between me and my feelings. Expressing all of these through a series of photographs kind of makes me feel happy but momentarily.
Photographer/Performance Artist/Land Artist/Audio Visual Artist/Digital-Graphic
1988, Born in Barrackpore, West Bengal, India
IG Account: www.instagram.com/tripflip_88