Ryan Debolski’s Photobook Like Is A Sensual Entry Into The Lonely World Of Oman’s Migrant Workers

Ryan Debolski’s Photobook Like Is A Sensual Entry Into The Lonely World Of Oman’s Migrant Workers

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Debolksi depicts the men as they seek momentary respite from the oppressive heat and relentless, arduous labor on the sandy beaches of Oman. Here, the men forge connections, finding a sense of agency, companionship, and community in each other. The photographer’s sublime lens represents them beyond their hardship—captured in the act of play and embracing the closeness of each other as the only source of human warmth, the images reveal the men’s vulnerability while framing alternative codes of masculinity through subtle homoerotic overtones.

Characterized by warm hues and vigorous contrasts, the sun-drenched images are offset by construction sites, roads, desert landscapes, and palm fronds rendered in black and white—the contrasting tonalities reveal the tension between the workers’ humanistic side and its grueling, oppressive environment. Alongside the photographs are transcripts of conversations via text messages to highlight the details of the communication Debolski and the workers had with one another—an interplay that is integral for the book’s narrative. The project is further accompanied by an essay by Jason Koxvold that contextualizes the work in the history of representation of labor in art. LIKE is published by Gnomic Book and available for purchase here.


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