“There is a certain degree of nakedness and sensuality in my pictures,” French photographer Laurent Goldstein tells Queerty in an exclusive interview, “but you have to keep in mind that these are candid shots of ordinary life happening in front of my camera.”
Goldstein relocated to Varanasi, India from Paris after a successful career as an art director in the fashion industry.
Spoken like a true Frenchman, he explains, “Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world, where time is frozen between dreams and reality like an everlasting dawn, [and] where I decided to leave my heart and soul.”
It was in Varanasi that Goldstein launched a line of household linens called Red Halo, and began photographing the everyday lives of the people around him. He has a number of images that feature Indian men bathing together in the river.
“Most of the pictures are shot in Varanasi and mainly along the Ganges,” he says. “The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is worshipped as goddess Ganga. It is said that the river is purifying, absorbing impurities and symbolic dirt and taking them away.”
“Everywhere people bathe in its holy waters,” he continues, “paying homage to their ancestors and to the gods, mostly to Lord Shiva depicted as the ‘Bearer of the Ganga’ with a spout of water rising from his hair.”
Goldstein describes his work as “spontaneous” and “candid.”
“From a Western perspective you might consider these pictures homoerotic,” he says. “There is undoubtedly something striking there.”
But in India, he explains, “men’s body language doesn’t mean the same … To any Indian they are performing an unambiguous straight behavior.”
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