“I want to run around, be in the midst of things…” – Arko Datto

All I can say about Arko Datto is: He is many things.

For the most part, Arko is a spectacular award-winning photographer whose work has been published in Newsweek, Le Journal de la Photographie and Marie Claire (that’s just to name a few).

His works, masterpiece photography at its finest, revolve around very real circumstances and genuine experiences. There are no words to describe the emotional and spiritual depths that Arko’s works visit.

It is, at the very least, a privilege to be able to get to know a little more about the Arko Datto behind his prized gem of a talent. His superb photography is accompanied by an eloquence that compliments his intelligence and his work is under-spoken yet convicting.

We get to know Arko on a slightly more intimate and raw level.

Your educational background is a wide range of pretty much everything. Could you tell us why you took the road you did and how it has impacted your work?

The road I have traversed has been a very organic one. I have only striven to do that which I am really passionate about, thereby trying my best to stay true to myself. For a greater part of my life, I had been deep into the theoretical sciences, studying pure mathematics and theoretical physics with great ardor. But it started feeling a bit inert after a point.

I want to run around, be in the midst of things…

Photography and contemporary art provide me with that space and I’m very content to be part of it. My scientific background has a deep influence in the way I analyse and construct projects, constantly searching for loopholes in my way of seeing and creating things. At the end of the day, you create a universe with your work, with its own grammar and syntax. It is very much a scientific process.

How do you usually come up with the topics that you work with?

I work on projects that appeal to me at a very visceral level. A lot of my work draws from experiences as a divide soul between Europe and Asia, which is what I have been for the past eight years or so.

So migrant experiences, diaspora, emotional journeys into loneliness, angst and depression find their way into my work.

At the same time, I was steeped in politics and activism in college. So my work ends up being political.

In 2012, you won a Lonely Planet scholarship. Tell us about that experience.

I came in contact with some amazing people during this experience, spending time in one of the best places on Earth—Ladakh.

I was passing through some turmoil in my life. So my work was very dark at that point of time. Being in Ladakh propelled the work I was doing into richer domains.

“…I have always had a love-hate relationship with photography and am still coming to terms with photography being so present in my life now… Photography is where my political side, analytical side and creative side come together and find full expression.”

What is an ideal photo to you?

An ideal photograph is one that transcends the grammar of photography and the context in which it is created and becomes more than it all. It’s something that appeals to the innermost feelings and emotions of the beholder.

Your “Cybersex” compilation is a work of art. How did you go about doing this project?

Well, the project took about three months to complete while I was studying photography in Denmark. What started off as a curious endeavor soon turned into a full scale obsession trying to understand, follow and decode people whose lives I knew so little about.

Obstacles came in the form of moral or ethical questions that kept cropping up, regarding privacy, intimacy and the like.

Your career is going nowhere but uphill, what is your goal as an artist, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

(Haha) I’m not sure where or how it’s going. I’ll keep trying to do my best. I wish to do two things: be at the forefront of innovative ways of telling stories and hopefully be able to effectuate some positive change along the way.

Arko’s piece of advice?

“Easier said than done, but be true to your essence, your very core. You’ll know when you do. It’s the only way to survive amidst all the confusion and hardships that will bother you in the initial years.”

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