B&WEuropeShotA self-portrait from Hell by Alex Lobo

Contorted with rage and emotional pain in an indefinite space in the darkness, helpless in a primal state of nudity, a man struggles with himself.

Contorted with rage and emotional pain in an indefinite space in the darkness, helpless in a primal state of nudity, a man struggles with himself.  

Nothing we know about this individual. Perhaps he was a solid, emotionally stable person in the past. Maybe he even was a caring, warm human being. Maybe some kind of insecurity troubled him, maybe some aspects of his relationship with the world started to ashame and anger him, and maybe he had never developed the ability to express these feelings and they started to slowly, silently bottle up until they became unbearable and overwhelmed him. Maybe by the time he noticed it, he was no longer himself. This is what was left in the ground zero of a devastated mind.

The background that gave birth to this project was my persistent failure to succeed as a portrait photographer. Even if I still considered portraiture a genre that intimately connected with me, enjoyed taking portraits, and was happy with part of my work, overall my portfolio was conventional and didn’t stand out. This was partially because of my inability to build rapport with most of my subjects and make them feel comfortable during the shootings, so before completely giving up on portraiture I decided to take some decidedly experimental self-portraits where I could do as I pleased with light and angles without fear of disappointing (or even offending) my seaters. 

I knew I wanted this project to be raw and even challenging for the viewer. And I also knew I wanted to show very private aspects of myself that wouldn’t even dare to ask one of my usual subjects to show. But I wasn’t quite sure about the exact poses and expressions I wanted. Once I placed myself in front of the camera, however, everything changed. 

I started thinking of issues that had been tormenting me for the previous few years. Extreme feelings and emotions that were tearing me apart, but I had been hiding from everyone, day after day masking them with a semblance of normality. And without anyone around to intrude on my privacy, I set them free.

This was the day I finally found a subject I connected with: myself, maybe the only person I can feel comfortable with in this world. And I finally succeeded in reflecting the inner psychological world of that person in my work, something reinforced by the total darkness of the background and the abstract tone obtained with very high contrast settings. 

These pictures were taken two and a half years ago. I haven’t taken any portraits ever since. 

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Deadline: Monday, November 30, 2020
Photo by ©Ryotaro Horiuchi | Japan | Issue#14
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