In Sunless, beauty is pursued across the disintegrating boundaries between male and female. The images in Sunless, taken in Thailand between 2012 and 2013, form the second part of a larger body of work-in-progress, born out of a persistent urge to photographically confront questions regarding gender and sexuality.
Sunless was published by Editions du Lic in 2015.
By Brad Feuerhelm, ASX, July 2015
We hide uncomfortable truths of alienation when we absorb another’s skin. The porosity of our emotions are entwined and heavily scented with rotten lavender and acrid perspiration. The blue lights, the red lights, and the euphoric shock of blinding white light leaving one’s temples throbbing at the doors of pleasure… all of it, an exhausting charade for the temporality of our being. The hive mind of stability given way to the reasoning of orgasmic filter drawn from a resistance of the clinical programming of our genitalia… a maverick species who slithers, hisses, and licks at the heel of solitude without ever giving into the trespass it bequeaths as true individuality…to stand naked and cold in the yawning chasm of disarticulated nothingness while being four fingers deep in the crevice of another’s being…that is how we reason our existence outside of the crude metaphors of home and family. Our gift is thirty pounds of pressure applied to a circumference of sun-stained skin. It is only moments before the sieve tears to reveal sinew and the inner workings of a needy melancholia supported by the sound of people clapping and singing in unison. To immerse oneself into the careening harness of solitude has become fable just as that boy who hurls the rock towards the giant’s brow.
One day the rock from which each anus spins will shoulder an impressario of darkness and each rhythmic sequence will spin obtusely towards a syrupy black nothingness whose reach tentacles our swollen faces, licking haphazardly at their lacrymal tears of sadness. In the meantime, we will continue to plunder each other’s soft and secret patches of skin, furloughing our inner workings for that of a moth-eaten mattress and another piss stained corner from which we absolve ourselves of the only purity we can muster, our processed urine. Brick by brick, steel girder for steel girder, this is the house that shame has built us. We rule it with a piety disorder and holy self-denial.
Sunless is Tiane Doan Na Champassak’s most elevated work yet. The publication itself is beautifully printed and plays with chromophilic metaphor of color in the red, white, and blue of the artist’s French half-nationality. In his previous book “Spleen and Ideal”, he set forth an equally beautifully produced tome, but in Sunless, he takes the questions of sexuality, gender, and lumpen flesh made desire into a new territory by placing the bodies throughout against images of sweaty concrete and steel. The bodies lie distinctly on the abject cutting room floor. It is not without passion, but the passion becomes more cerebral in this work. Like Aaron McElroy, he seems to be pushing at what the body regards as its backdrop and objects of relativity. It is equally about the impression of the body on the physical surroundings as much as the body itself. Though gender is implied, rather inter-gender, it is without a callous observation. The strength of which is to deny its spectacle for that of a cultural acceptance and unity. It exists, and it exists in a space like any other.