Sometimes love just isn’t enough, at least that’s how photographer John Arsenault tells it in his gallery exhibition “A Ghost Is Occupying My Heart.” After a nine-year-long relationship—the subject of most of his previous work—dissolved into blocked Facebook accounts and a self-healing playlist, the artist escaped from NYC and traveled to the insulated Massachusetts harbor community of Provincetown. There, Arsenault re-discovered himself by “stripping myself down emotionally, often literally nude, in order to create a body of work that revealed my pain as honestly as I could.” Arsenault is acutely aware of the viewer in all of his self-portraits, in fact he leverages that voyeuristic relationship to expose his isolation, making for a palpable feeling of discomfort that is both beautiful and eerie.
“A Ghost Is Occupying My Heart,” is an introspective collection of work in which the photographer contrasts his emotional despondence against landscapes that express his state of mind. On view a few years ago, the self-portraits are now complimented by landscapes and still life imagery that express a need to be left alone in a state of contemplation. Arsenault achieves a strong sense of disconnection from his camera by literally positioning the apparatus in a way that seemingly startles the subject in the image. By discovering the camera he creates an exhibition in which he re-discovers himself.
Putting a positive spin a somber situation, 10% of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for at risk LGBTQ teens. The show opens 6 January 2010 at Clampart and runs through the 5 February 2010.