It requires a considerable amount of ambivalence to capture both violence and tenderness in the same vessel. Photoptarmosis is definitely one of these containers. Inquiringly, intriguing portraits and Baroque, Caravaggio-like silhouettes, unexpectedly intertwine with a vanilla gore atmosphere, a gentle approach on shibari and the beautiful art of restraining. 

Photoptarmosis is the visual project of the Italian, Bologna-based photographer Tommaso Costa. The visual artist focuses on the idea of making the viewer feel something. His photographic raw series is meant to cut deep, to provoke a psychological split in the human mind. Fun fact: as hermetic as it might sound, the notion itself – photoptarmosis – originates in old Greek, and it means “sneezing”, an uncontrollable reflex.

“I’ve always been fascinated by photography”, Tommaso told me. “I tried various themes and ideas, and I found out that what suits me most is portraiture and erotic photography, particularly shibari”. Having studied media and communication, the self-taught photographer uses art to get a better understanding of his own ideas, instead of getting attention. Even though he’s the one behind the camera, his portraits can be considered, in a way, indirect self-portraits.

Describing his process on Patreon, Tommaso Costa says: “[…] It’s challenging. I love being captured by those images and feel the need to comprehend what I’m watching, instead of just looking at them”.

All photo credits: Tommaso Costa | Photoptarmosis

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Romanian writer based in Cyprus. Co-founder CVLTARTES. Author of "Hailbringer: A Romanian Folktale"