The Invisible Portraits of My Mind

Arjuna Asa

2017 - Ongoing

South Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

I would say that I often don’t understand myself. I don’t understand the thoughts that keep coming to me, the vivid and intense emotions that carried me to the dark world that can only be visible to me, in my mind. After many breakdowns and anxiety that often happened, I questioned myself: “Is it the side effect of a childhood trauma? Or is it some natural phase everyone has? Or is it some kind of distress?”

This project is a compilation of my self-portraits that I made from the year of 2017 until now. These self-portraits have become my way to explore and process the invisible emotions and thoughts that I’m hardly able to express in daily interaction. I use my body as a medium for telling these subjective experiences that may or may not be experienced by others.

At the first time I went into making my first self-portrait, it didn’t occur to me that it would be a continuous project. Each time I make a self-portrait, it is more like an instinct carried away by my emotions and even some are created as a thematic challenge with my friend. But after looking back at them, I realized that these self-portraits are not merely an idea, but it is actually like a puzzle of myself, it brings out pieces of me one by one, regarding my thoughts, emotions, and the unconscious. The images that I presented here reflect many pieces of me, from the story of my past traumas, my emotional landscape, grief, regrets, and angst in life.

That is why these self-portraits are really important to me to develop more in the future. They give me chances to explore and process myself as well as it is a therapeutic experience when I’m making them.

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  • Title: Blue Hour. There's this time or episode when I feel very anxious, very empty, lonely, sad, melancholic, and always think about the worst possibility of life, such as destruction, death, failure, past traumas, and so on. When it happens, I feel like I couldn't function properly and disinterested in life. I refer that time as "The Blue Hour".

  • Title: Haunt. I am still haunted by my childhood trauma that still "grow" inside of me, becoming part of me that alters my perception of reality back into the past trauma. Reflecting on the psychological concept of "Inner Child", in which when you grow up, there’s still a “child” living in your mind (the inner child) and the inner child is going to influence the way you think, feel, and act, as an adult.

  • Title: The S(h)elf. This picture is a reconstruction of my past, the inner wounds, and traumas due to the conflict of values and identity’s rejection during my childhood. I tried to depict the fear, sadness, and discomfort, in response to identity conflict of being a “feminine boy”, which does not conform to society's expectation of a "masculine boy".

  • Title: Bodies. Alienation and sacrifices caused by the obsession of achieving "perfection" as means of success and societal expectations

  • Title: Amidst The Hustle. This photo reflect a moment of existential angst in my life over dealing with works and life. It is a critique over "hustle culture", where people works extensively with a little rest in order to achieve success.

  • Title: Tear The Universe. This pictures represents guilts, regrets, frustrations, and griefs that I've encountered across in my life.

  • Title: Spikes. This picture represent the intense emotions that often come randomly. The burning sensations that I felt when my anxiety arises.

  • Title: The Burning Ground. This pictures depicts a state of pessimism that often dominates my mind. It is parallel to the concerns of the destruction and the uncertainty of the future earth due to global warming.

  • Title: In Between Hopes and Ruins. This pictures show a transitions of me becoming more understanding in myself and the world around me.

  • Title: Until The Sun Rises Again. The hope in me amidst all the chaos that happened inside my head, outside of myself, and the world.

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