State of absence
Project info

In a culture where homosexuality is considered a sin or taboo, homosocial relationships are considered harmless and even sacred. In a typically conservative Pakistani household, a woman may not be openly friends with a man but no matter under what circumstances she chooses to partner up with a woman (friendship, work, social activities), eyebrows would not be raised as to question her motives. The dynamics of sexuality and friendship in such a culture are bemusing for on one hand, ignorance is absolute bliss (households or society in general will not object to homosocial gatherings and/or sleepovers) and on the other hand, a complete nuisance (households or society will object strongly to heterosociality even if members of either sex identify as homosexual because the latter identity is deemed an unspeakable option). So I often wonder if generally, a household or society that kind of prides itself on heterosexuality; is it safe haven for homosexuals (behind closed doors) but suppressive of so-called "normal" relationships which happen to be the only kind of relationships considered acceptable?

When I detach myself from this web, it seems like this "heterosexual culture" is unknowingly protecting homosexuality in private and at the same time, actively discouraging heterosexuality outside preset conditions. Moreover, when it comes to sexual exploration, there is also a question of whether this kind of sex segregation by households or society enforces heterosexuality by underlining it and/or suppresses homosexuality by not recognizing it. Very loosely based on these confusing ideas, I decided to shoot two of my friends in a space they usually occupy. Even though the three of us are friends, I mostly consider myself an an outside observer, in this case using this position to my advantage and observing their non-verbal interaction. These photos in my submission are staged and both my models identify as "straight".

My plan is to continue shooting other Pakistanis in this context, using both documentary photography and constructed images.