Samak Kosem
Priit and Risto #04, 2024

Found image and digital print on Fine Art paper
29,2 × 41,9 cm

The Priit and Risto series forms part of the project “ship” (2022-ongoing) where Samak problematizes a phenomenon he experienced in Estonian society, which has not yet fully accepted the LGBTQ community despite being part of Europe. Meanwhile, Thailand, which is perceived as more open to such matters, has faced intense debates and conflicts regarding the expectations for “Boy’s Love” (BL) to address sexual diversity. Critics argue that BL in Thailand, which has gained worldwide popularity, creates an imaginary representation that does not reflect societal realities. On the other hand, proponents of BL claim that its development did not originate from LGBTQ issues but from the fantasies of women about two men “falling in love.”
Samak thus considers that there is, in fact, a point of discussion that both sides can engage in. The concept of ship in BL provides an interesting framework for queer studies, particularly when applying this concept to Western society. It reveals that ‘shipping’ does not necessarily have to narrate the truth but is rather a construct.
Samak uses found photographs of young Estonian men from antique shops to ship them onto various landscape photographs of present-day Tallinn. By collaging old photographs with new ones to make them work together, this reflects the queer lives that once existed there during the socialist era. This series thus creates an imaginative narrative of the past. Additionally, the project ‘ship’ challenges the application of concepts developed from Asian queer theory to explain phenomena in contemporary Western society.

Text from the artist.