Alex Domènech

2018 - Ongoing

Lebanon; Syria; Kyrgyzstan; Spain

Skin takes us to intimate spaces immersed in a hostile environment. It portrays a journey that crosses geographical, political and religious territories where our freedom of speech is trapped in a shelter built under pressure. A space that protects us from malevolent ideological shrapnel. What is our place in the world if we are not being accepted?

As a gay man travelling around the globe, I’ve seen how some of my basic rights have been relegated to my privacy, sometimes even my secrecy. The images in this body of work are my interpretation of this swing between hostility and intimacy and viceversa. They also show how our freedom is constantly covered by layers of fear and violence. The more hostility, the greater the need for privacy. A relationship that appears to be directly proportional.

The photographs have been taken in Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Lebanon and Spain. While some have their place on the map, others could happen in one place or another. The skin bristles the same here and everywhere. Marks and scratches are irrefutable evidence to passions that arouse in private. The scars still itch and the memory hurts. Vast grounds have been turned into battlefields, in the eyes of those who have seen them turned into no man's land.

This is an ongoing project.

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  • Adilet and I were heading to Kazarman, where he lives. He picked me up while I was hitchhiking around Kyrgyzstan back in 2018. He also had provided me shelter for a night at his home before I headed south the next morning.

  • Chandeliers hang from high ceilings inside newly built churches of Bcharre, north of Lebanon. Maronite Christians have a strong heritage in this area of the country. Photograph taken in September 2019.

  • The world feels rough when you don't quite blend into a society that doesn't accept you. Landscapes in Kyrgyzstan were one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen, as well as one of the roughest and more traditional cultures I ever encountered.

  • Lgbtq rights in Spain are far better nowadays than they were a few years ago. Society is slowly accepting this reality, although there is still a long way to go.

  • Jae. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 2018. It is not considered illegal being gay in Kyrgyzstan, but lgbtq people don't have any legal protection yet. Meetings with same sex partners still have to happen in secret in order to avoid being seen by anyone.

  • Lebanon is considered one of the most open-minded countries in the middle east, yet social rights are far from being fair for everyone. Picture taken in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2019.

  • Fèlix. Barcelona, 2020. The skin bristles the same way everywhere.

  • 71 countries still criminalize homosexuality. In Syria one could get killed if caught having relations with same sex partners. Photograph taken in Damascus in 2019.

  • Many civilisations have left prints in Lebanon's current society, becoming this a mixture of religions and ethnicities. In the picture, roman ruins in Umayyad, near Aanjar, Lebanon. September 2019

  • The statement of Skin is the result of reflecting on what I have experienced in recent years, on how I have lived the trips and the hostility that I have seen and lived in my own skin. At the same time, the moments of intimacy that I lived while travelling had nothing different to the ones that I lived in Barcelona, the city where I currently live in. Dor's back, 2020.

  • Intimacy is universal, so is hostility. Picture taken in Santpedor, Spain, my hometown, in 2020.

  • Arvi. Barcelona, 2020. There is a dialogue between these two opposite worlds. Neither of the two is ignored by the other, the more hostile the environment, the more secret the intimate space is forced to be.

  • Irkeshtam is a border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang, China. The elevation of the gorge is approximately 2,950 metres above sea level. It is named after a village on the Kyrgyz side of the border in the southern Osh Region.

  • There is a museum in Lebanon dedicated to commemorate one of their most celebrated victories against the state of Israel in the late 90s. In the photograph, three machine guns shown in the Hezbollah-run museum of Mleeta, in South Lebanon.

  • It is frustrating to see the way in which the freedom of some minorities is constantly restrained by layers of fear and violence. Barcelona, summer 2020

  • The refuge is very fragile, permeable, finite. You don't know how long it will last, especially when everything is against you. In Syria, being caught having sex with someone of the same sex can lead to years of imprisonment or death penalty in places controlled by the Islamic State.
    Picture taken in Homs, Syria, in 2019.

  • 17. This lack of privileges becomes a great obstacle to individual freedom and translates into a violation of fundamental human rights. Kameron, Barcelona, 2019.

  • Sometimes it is not comfortable having to adopt a fake role so to go unnoticed. Imagine what it's like to live your whole life like this. Picture taken in the region of Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, in 2018.

  • A wax statue of Abbas Al-Mussawi, co-founder of Hezbollah, in the Mleeta Museum of war in Lebanon. September 2019.

  • Intimacy and hostility are interconnected. The more hostile is the environment, the greater is the need for keeping ourselves safe, in the shelter of secrecy, a fragile cocoon of intimacy. Photograph taken in Arlsanbob, Kyrgyzstan, in 2018.