Photography The male body taxonomy by Francesco Paolo Gassi

The male body taxonomy by Francesco Paolo Gassi

Laura Tota
Francesco Paolo Gassi |

Inhabiting a body means perceiving it, recognizing oneself in it and being recognized. It means feeling familiar to oneself and to others, relating to the World through nerve endings, fat and senses.
The body is the core center of our own identity and will, and the nude has long been a favorite subject for photographers since the birth of the photographic medium. However, speaking of male nude, its diffusion is lower, except for some particular cases, since it has been considered less interesting (if not disturbing) by the dominant “Male Gaze” (or the representation of the female universe, in the visual arts and literature, from a male and heterosexual point of view, which represents women as mere sexual objects aimed at the satisfaction of the male audience). Only since the late ’70s, thanks to the birth of the homosexual liberation movement and the advertising market, we have witnessed a new life of nude male, able to transform the male body into an erotic subject open to hedonistic contemplation.

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An example is the iconic body of works by Robert Mapplethorpe, attracted by the male nude since childhood, which recalls classical nudity and gives dignity and beauty to a considered degrading category of people, or the most recent portraits by the photographer Florian Hetz who, through tight close ups, immortalizes the true essence and innate sensuality of the male body.

And it is precisely on the border between art and eroticism that the narration of “Bodies” is played out, the latest project by Francesco Paolo Gassi, a young author from Puglia who investigates the physicality of the body in his practice. Francesco is literally obsessed with imperfections and the naturalness of smudging, far from the glossy aesthetic clichés: hair, skin and body fluids are his playing field, details are his favorite points of view. He moves carefully around the male body, that is at the same time, something familiar to him, but also a source of shame for a community he has had to hide his sexuality for years.

Art, pornography and taxonomy dialogue in the photographic space. The poses, meticulously studied, just as the illumination and the relationship of the body with space, suggest and allude to an eroticization of the body that is never explicit, they orient the human anatomy to emphasize the insignificant and the banal, elevating it to the object of desire. It’s an almost scientific approach that, through the photographic image, aims to make eternal the organic matter of which man is made and to reach the essence of every portrayed subject.
Thus, the male bodies become the ideal playing field on which to renegotiate identity, free from social superstructures and free from conditioning, presented to the eye of the observer in its total, disturbing and ambivalent authenticity. The project combines digital photographs with snapshots:  the unrepeatable body is perpetuated in the uniqueness of a Polaroid, as well as the quality of the digital image reflects every single detail of the epidermal specificity of each photographed body.

Written by Laura Tota
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