> Even though the whole world is burning

Fragments of The Dying Man

Deb Choudhuri, India

Confronting tuberculosis at the age of 17 forced me to live a life in isolation for a long period of time–part of which was associated with stigma; part with my own fear and shame of not having lived fully and losing time. After the suicide of a lover, to live again was the only way out.

Tragedies shape the human in you.

The act of photography is a pretext to getting closer. To continue living a dual life: One, in a vulnerable position of solitude. The other, within the personal space of strangers. Some stay. Some fade away.

Fragments of the Dying Man is a diary of fragility, loss and desire.

It oscillates between Isolation and Intimacy. Much like the life lived, the images are soiled, weary, damaged and fragile, what I call as “poor images”- a way to define our vulnerability and poverty of the human condition today.

This journey passes through lands that are vast yet confined with so little happening, looking outside for a semblance of love and sometimes inside, often photographed by and with strangers surrendering to their will.

At the end are my encounters with people with whom I share moments, during my wanderings. Those that gave me a shelter, those like me. Encounters and spaces. Confined, intimate and visceral. Much like me, everyone I desire through an image lives a life of ambiguity. For me, the identity is not based on what the person does to exist in a world where power dictates social norms and moral codes. Different worlds struggle to exist, finding a way out only through the camera, without the fear of being judged. Some have been abused sexually, some bullied, some in a deep sense of anguish, exploding through the feeling of desire and being desired. Bound together through the logic of the lure.

How photography creates a fiction around us? Me and the other, and how through this fiction, of promiscuous exchanges, we get closer to understanding what it means to be here. The narratives are simple, often repetitive , with people acting on their own whim, being the actors and directors of the stage of desire, trying to understand their body and the spectrum of their human experience through being an image. Clothed, barely or nothing at all. A subtle vulnerability that becomes the symbol of an unspoken strength and sexual power.

The body is the site of desire, site of resistance , a symbol of performance. To seek pleasure, to express agony. Pain.

In its experience with the “queer” body, desire and space , this journey strives to look beyond the “presupposed zones of identity and representation, to think of the anonymous, erotic and uncertain forms of “sociality” ” – death, disappearance and the fragmentary passage of people and places.

Through this, I try to live up to my own questioning of desire and the inarticulate form that sits between proximity and promiscuity and is, maybe called love.


Debmalya Ray Choudhuri (b.1992) is an artist currently based in New York, the USA. He uses photography, performance and text in his work. Confronting some personal crises , he left India and is now based in New York. He deals with the themes of the “queerness” of desire, love, and identity using a very personal and intense approach. His practice has its roots in the need to take distance from the chaos of the surroundings, and get intimate, physically and emotionally, in places where the hunt is more lyrical, delicate, sometimes strong and operating in the region between fear and desire. Over time, the creative practice has naturally flowed from finding a sense of belonging to one place, to connecting to people by establishing closeness to one person at a time. This way, the author tries to understand the why’s and how’s people express desire and love and uses photography to converse with them. He uses these experiences, and conversations with strangers and friends to build the complex play of what it means to be here, to struggle and to live in a broader sociopolitical realm of existence. The lines between the subject and the photographer are blurred and fluid in his work. These dual conversations open new perspectives on the relationship between the self and the other. He attended workshops at The International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York for a while and currently works on long term personal projects.