Soham Gupta Calcutta, India
Soham Gupta was chosen by photographer Alisa Bowyer
Laatikkomo’s interview with Soham Gupta March 9th, 2017
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have in-fluenced you?
SG: I once met a man in Cambodia whom I asked, ‘And where are you from, Sir?’
The gentleman replied, ‘I am from my mother!’
So, I am also from my mother, I’d say.
Currently based in Calcutta.
And I share a love-hate relationship with this great city – I despise it as much as I love it; every nook, every cranny is a museum of memories – the city, it claws onto me no matter how far I try to go. With the passage of time, I am hating my existence here more and more, even as I find myself rooted deeper and deeper within.
I am urban. I love cities. I love the stink of urine around Roma Termini, I love the whiff of cheap perfume in Belleville, Paris, as I pass by Chinese whores. I love silent long rides in an auto rickshaw zipping down the empty roads of Delhi past the rush hour in the autumn evening. I am obsessed about secrets. Secrets every big city throbs with.
To me, the sight of impoverished drunkards warming themselves by the pyres of a crematorium on a winter night is probably the most inspiring of all sights.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
GS: My parents photographed me obsessively while I was growing up – those glossy images and cheap albums constitute my earliest memory of photography.
L: Your images are dark – photographed in the dark, but the lighting in your images is soft even when using a flash, which is unusual. What attracts you to dark light and without revealing all your professional secrets what light sources are you using?
GS: I used to work with an external flash, it was frustrating; but eventually I sold it off, relying solely on the in-built pop-up flash of my camera.
L: Many of your projects are photographed in impoverished environments and dense cityscapes. Are you attracted to these particular environments or are there other kinds environments that you would be interested in photographing if possible?
GS: I respond to themes of loneliness and isolation, of abuse and pain, of scarred pasts and uncertain futures, sexual tensions and existential dilemmas. My work stands testimony to the requiem of countless dreams, even as it is a record of my angst-ridden youth.
L: Photography is often a tool for telling stories but you are also a writer. Are somethings said more easily or more effectively with words versus images (or vis versa) or do you see image and words as complimentary to each other?
GS: For me, images and words are always complementing each other. Before I was seriously into photography, I was studying Comparative Literature and wanted to be a writer. Writing is my first love. Being a writer and a photographer at the same time is convenient – at times when I am sick of making images, I write. And then, when I am sick of writing, I make images.
L: In your series “Don’t let them know” you are leaving half of the work of interpretation for the viewer. How important is it to leave part of the story unsaid?
GS: I see ‘Don’t Let Them Know’ as a book without words – I am still collecting and editing images, I have no clue how it will ultimately take shape.
L: Could you list five or more words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?
GS: #angst #agony #loneliness #longing #hope
Thank you so much Soham!