Saturday, September 17, 2011
Illegal Exposure on the Field
Later in the week, when the whole incident began to die down I contacted this kid on Facebook and began a conversation with him to see if he would be interested in coming to the studio for a session and become a feature on the one of my posts: “Daniel. My name is Terry and I do a daily blog here in Missoula called The Naked Man Project. It's not really known in Montana but has more of an international following, I would love to photograph and feature you in my blog. You can find links on my Facebook if you are interested. You will get free images from the shoot. I have to say you were hysterical at the football game on Saturday. Very nicely done.” His first response was: “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww” but then he come back with “what is the basis of this website?”
This kind of set me back a bit as I really had to think about, what actually am I doing here and what is this process about and how do I convey this to a stranger I am asking to possibly photograph naked who knows nothing about what I am doing. So I explained “I am a lighting designer who spent years working in professional theater. I am most interested in creating images of the male and masculine figure as an art form. I don't just photograph men, but also women, men are just more secure about allowing me to show them, where as women are quite reluctant. The concept behind it is to deconstruct classic art; painters like Caravaggio, and recreate them for the modern man, in a modern era. The Naked Man Project has been a year of searching for my place amongst other artist that work in this style. I just returned from a trip to Paris and Berlin where I met with gallery owners and publishers who are interested in showing or creating some sort of publication. The journal is my life as a creative artist and gay man growing up in a remote beautiful place like Montana.” Somehow I was suddenly embarrassed to have to explain the vision of my concept to this stranger outside my realm of existence and knew I was crossing into an unknown new territory. After all we are still in Montana here, where such things are either dismissed or ignored. But here was a man who had the courage of his convictions to stand before a crowd of strangers and expose himself for all to see. Something I have spent a year building up to do for myself. I had a great adoration and some sort of kinship and somehow just wanted to meet him.
His response back was quite interesting as the reality of both our worlds came to light: “I’m not comfortable being photographed by a man who may find me sexual attractive if you see what you do as art and beautiful more power to you cause I will agree the human form is a thing of beauty as it was crafted by the most prominent artist to ever create. to each his own but I’m gonna have to pass unless I am photographed with a woman or women as that is how I will be comfortable to be photographed and also I cannot take time for a venture for the sake of art right now as I am facing serious consequences for my actions including expulsion which would mean I now have $50,000 to pay off in student loans on top of thousands of dollars in fines so unless you can pay me and get female models to be photographed with me I cannot model for you sorry.” He had not thought about the consequences of his actions and what the price might be. This really made me begin to ponder the price I have paid as I began to question the consequences of my own actions in creating beautiful images of naked men.
I felt a bit stung by his response, because in my minds eye, the project has grown to become something extraordinary that defies some of the stereotypes of male nudity, and here I was being defied because I was gay, by someone else's insecurity. Many of my subjects actually are straight and I have never really had issues in dealing with it in the past. Many are honored and grateful when they enter my studio. An unmistakable feeling I had just crossed a line I shouldn’t gripped me and I was reminded once more of where I am and where this project began and why it remained hidden for so many years. Suddenly I saw the ironic humor of it all and began to laugh.
VIEW FULL IMAGE: NATE #243