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Hotel Rooms by Ankit Banerjee

Medium: Digital Still Photographs

Year: 2016 — 2018

"I could never be one of the alpha jock boys in leatherjackets, 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, had long hair, and was a disaster at any sport. Thankfully, I grew up to not cave into biases and conformities-based gender binaries. For years, I struggled with body image issues. I began experimenting with nude self portraits since I was a schooI-going boy.

Yes, like most adolescent boys, I wanted to send my partner photos of myself. I always tried to make the photos artistic, subtle, indirect, full of light and shade, and simply exciting. I was able to explore so much more with portraits just by being in my room with myself. I became my own director. Soon, I began to

construct narratives that left the realms of that adolescent school boy. It took close to a decade to overcome how I looked at myself. The photographs I made also presented me with a lot of mockery from peers, college faculty and even my parents. To this date, many even call me a ‘nudist’; given the

vulnerability of the process— to compose my being in the new immediate environment, one results with vast collection of photos, showcasing a repository bigger than any commercial portfolio. And I’ve come to enjoy it.

For the past few years, I’ve been traveling. I find hotel rooms fascinating. They are all the same and yet so different from each other in how they make you feel. Traveling alone gives you the headspace to immerse into this “private” space that you occupy temporarily.

The general idea of the room is pretty simple, but the finer details 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 actually my own and how I look at myself. I am like any other human being. And to myself the same human being, if I isolated myself. However, the finer details of how my body changes, my skin reacting to this space, how my mood is influenced by the location and setting,

so on.

An aspect of my traveling is that I don’t groom at all. Since whenever I do shave, most people undermine me as a child. I don’t carry any razors or trimmers that I can rid any body hair with, so essentially I let nature grow as it does. If I prefer the hair or not, how different lighting makes me look, what makes me look commercially appealing to what makes me feel naturally comfortable. Today, I am more aware of how my body looks, how much I have changed not just mentally, but also physically through these rooms; The

medium of photography seldom presents itself with subtlety or ease. The camera, to me became the way I emote. But 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 an art comes with layers of complexities, especially in documenting myself.

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