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Hoda Afshar

Iran/Australia   www.hodaafshar.com

Behold was made unexpectedly, and without design. I was travelling in a city that I sometimes return to, and I got to know a group of gay men. There, where they live, these men (and many others like them) are mostly left to be. But only on the condition that they lead one part of their lives in secret. Rarely, that is, do their bodies ever meet in open honesty outside, in public. Only here, in this bathhouse, where their desire to be seen and embraced by others – just to be and to be held – is played out the partial openness of these four closed walls.
The bathhouse no longer exists. But while it still did, these men invited me to document it and a little glimpse of their lives in it. We arrived, but I was not allowed to enter. So we rented the place, and for a few hours I took pictures while these men played themselves performing their lives for my peering camera, in order that their desire to be seen might be realised, in part at least, here in the world of the images – in the act of beholding, where the bare thereness of life is transformed from mere appearing or appearance, into something more meaningful… into recognition.