Having spent five years of my life living in and travelling extensively through Asia, I have always been struck by the underrepresentation of Asian masculinity, particularly in Western culture, save for a few clumsy cliches. Further, in a sea of media imagery, the few spare islands of representation of the Asian male are, I find, unsexualized. The businessman, the effete, the martial artist, all wearing the proverbial fig leaf, or more specifically, devoid of a sexuality, not merely hidden but absent altogether.
Having already embarked on a career in photography where my impetus was to explore unventured aspects of my sitter’s personality, I began to canvas for potential models for a project which would explore a broader spectrum of beauty among Asian males. Through bulletin board postings, friends, introductions at social functions, even approaching people on the street, I managed to interview hundreds of potential sitters, with the express purpose of determining whether they could share my vision. It was essential to find models who understood what I was attempting to unearth. Many of those interviewed described their own frustrations at the limited exposure given to Asian men outside of the stereotypical.
In shooting, the dialogue between sitter and photographer, not simply verbal but the creative interaction, drew for me hitherto unimagined nuance in personality and sexuality which I feel is captured for the viewer to share. The individuality of each sitter suggested different directions, different approaches for each shoot so that the cohesiveness of the body of work rests on its breadth, honesty and exploration rather than on the same, tired, threadbare depictions to which we’ve grown accustomed. Hopefully, its freshness is its main source of unity.
This project features an eclectic mix of twenty-two models from eleven various Asian backgrounds and different walks of life. The collection of work is a gift to all – male, female, Asian, non-Asian, straight, gay – to highlight new figurations of both the universality and the individuality of Masculine Beauty.
Born Troy Phillips in Oklahoma City in 1965, he was educated in Counseling Psychology at Oklahoma Christian College and in Japanese and Cross-cultural Communications at Ibaraki Christian College in Hitachi, Japan. Upon graduation, Troy moved to Tokyo and began working as a model and actor while teaching English. In 1991, Phillips was introduced to textile designer Reiko Sudo and shortly after was hired, trained and sent to New York City to work with the line NUNO. Four years of interior design followed before establishing his own web and graphics company, At Beam, Inc. with partner, Akimitsu Sadoi.
Having been fascinated with photography since his teen years, it was not until late 2003 Troy fully acknowledged his love, realizing his passion for the photographic process and images created. Shortly after he began work on Asian & Masculine: A Body of Work - his debut exhibition. Phillips aims to find that special connection with his models, capturing the raw energy and emotions between photographer and subject.
January 2005 ‘Asian & Masculine: A Body of Work’, The National Arts Club, New York City - debut show
February 2005 ‘Asian & Masculine: A Body of Work’, The National Arts Club, New York City - show extension
April 2005 Goliath Visual Art Space; Williamsburg Brooklyn NY
March 2005 GLAAD Media Awards Silent Auction; New York City
April 2005 New York City Gay Men’s Chorus Benefit; New York City
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> Asian and Masculine
> Troy Phillips Photography web site