A small room with no windows or doors. The air is scarce, because there’s no way for it to come inside. At first, you take a huge mouthful of air to ease the suffocating sensation, but the more you try, the less fresh air you get. You feel as if the only thing keeping you awake is that slight amount of air that manages to get into your lungs. You can't see anything. At some point, everything seems so dark that the only thing you can perceive is the dim shadow of your own body. But at other moments the light is so bright that it blinds you and makes you wish you could go back to those somber moments of the day. You feel trapped, as if some strings were keeping you still, preventing you from moving a single part of your body. Is there a way out?
That’s the sensation that Kacan Cardoza’s photographs convey, that alteration of the mind, the despair we feel, and the terrible pain experienced inside our heads while showing another face to the outside. Cardoza materializes all those ghosts tormenting the mind and makes them attainable and understandable. His self-portraits show how our dark emotions can take over, trap, and not let us escape.
Depression is one of those medical conditions people don't pay enough attention to. It's often measured in the same terms as sadness, as if it were just an emotion that vanishes with time, and those who experience it, not able to fully understand their condition, tend to seclude and isolate themselves. At the end of the day, it ends up being a vicious circle that pushes them even farther from a cure. If you look at these pictures, they convey that feeling of seclusion and loneliness, of dealing with a monster by yourself.
There are several photographic series portraying mental illnesses such as depression. But despite their artistic skills there's something about them that doesn't feel true. They don't convey those emotions at their fullest and end up just being amazing works of art leaving the purpose aside. What caught my attention about Cardoza’s images is how relatable they can be. Yes, there is the artistic value and they are very eye-catching, but their greatest value, in my opinion, is the honesty behind them.
Cardoza started taking photographs when he was in his mid-twenties as a way to pour out all the emotions overwhelming him. In that way, the camera acquired a therapeutic role, through which he found the way to communicate everything going on inside his head. Photography became a relief and, naturally, by doing so, each picture is a strong and powerful image we can relate with due to the honesty they were captured with. What started as a method to ease his mind soon became his main activity, but he felt that bringing honesty to the pictures wasn’t enough. There had to be an artistic and skillful technique involved if he wanted to stand out in the business, which obviously, nowadays is extremely competitive.
He set himself the goal of taking a decent photograph each day for a year. Each had to be emotionally relatable and artistically valuable. As we can see in his photos, these exercises worked quite well for him. Through lightning and the right angle, he’s been capable of evoking the darkest and most complex human emotions. These images are no longer about his own depression and materializing it through images, but a psychological exploration of the mind and its reaches, both the positive and the darkest corners of the psyche. You can see anger, fear, sadness, or despair, which not only explains what it feels like to experience them, but they allow you to see yourself through them and better understand what’s inside you.
The narrative quality Cardoza’s photos have is also one of his most important traits. His work isn’t only figurative and visual. His pictures tell a story. They narrate what’s going on in the life of the main character you’re seeing. Actually, the interpretation each of us could bring to the photo is a way of enriching this story. That's what his work is about, making the audience fill the gaps with their own experiences and emotional baggage to analyze their emotions in contrast with those portrayed.
If you want to see more of his work, take a look at his Instagram account: @kavanthekid
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