- Tom- Tom
This is the second blog in a series addressing comments made at amazon.com about my newest book, FINE ART SEX. The blogs in this series address a range of issues from artist development (To Change or Not to Change?), anonymity, elitism (mine) and ageism (theirs) to hypocrisy and ego. They are issues raised by the commentators Felixpath and Dorn that reflect the social issues my work has dealt with from day one, a time when I was recording our community’s life at Fire Island in the 1970s when most gay men were not out. I’m glad they’ve been raised because this is the kind of discussion I hoped my book would generate.
Before I reach this second subject of anonymity in my work, I want to thank Grady Harp who has followed my work for many years. His article, “Unabashed Sensualism” demonstrates an understanding of what FINE ART SEX is about. Grady has professional art world credentials and his writing provides a fair reading of the book. The only point I want to make in reference to his piece is that I’ve never worked with paid models. That fact has always shaped my work, differentiating it from other artists in material ways that he sees.
In Felixpath’s comments on FINE ART SEX, he wrote, “We don’t see their [my subjects'] faces often enough; Bianchi seems to be practicing the same objectification he claims to avoid.” Over the years, I’ve had to keep a number of men anonymous. It pains me to accommodate judgments by people who can’t deal with adult material to protect my friends. But that is a fact of life when one does, as I do, work with gay men who are not professional models.
When I publish pictures at the Members Area of my site requiring anonymity, I state in the photo stories the reason why. Apparently, I’ve not published this caveat in my books with sufficient clarity recently, so I make this statement here to make the record clear. I wish we all could be present in the light in our full identities. But we do not live in a world that permits that. This circumstance also applies to straight people who face the same sex phobic attitudes that will use nudity to sell stuff – not real life connection.
Many of the men represented in my work have not been naked in front of a camera before. Many of them have a need to protect their identity for professional reasons. For example, I’ve shot men in the military, teachers, doctors, performers, men with children, therapists, and others who for professional reasons required discretion. To allow them the experience of being part of my work – I have guarded their identities.
The man with the dark hair is a 4th grade school teacher about to retire. When he does – you will discover how handsome he is because he’s looking forward to dropping the cloak of anonymity. At times, the subjects’ faces are buried in one another and I don’t find that a problem or an “objectification” of them. It’s just a fact. One that feels rather good actually.
At some future more enlightened time, hopefully, the identity issues that have forced the editing of my work will be overcome. I counsel men to expand their borders and become comfortable with their whole naked selves because I believe our health depends upon getting over the shame described in the Adam and Eve story. At times this is a process that a shoot can facilitate. What needed to be guarded today can be freed tomorrow. I hope my work brings that day closer.
One thing can be said here though, with the exception of the photo of Bill and Dale – none of these photos could have been taken or published in the present environment had I not protected the subject’s identity.
Other posts in this series: