Ron Amato - Armor
" My Armor project was four years in the making. It explores issues of putting body before self for public consumption. The impetus for the project was a visit the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy during the summer of 2009. Accademia houses Michelangelo's David, as well as his unfinished slave series. In the summer of 2009 it also had an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs. The juxtaposition of Michelangelo sculpture and Robert Mapplethorpe photographs was very powerful.
I had been grappling with my own issues of aging within the Gay community through a number of photography projects. Being part of a community that seemingly values body above other personal attributes has always been conflicting for me. The visit to Accademia that day provided me with much food for thought and inspiration.
With the advent of social media the issue of aging publicly in the Gay community seemed more prevalent than ever. I started to think of all the images of shirtless men that crowded my Facebook newsfeed. It seemed to me those men were wearing their hyper-idealized bodies as social armor, protecting them from the dangers of revealing their true selves.
With Michelangelo and Robert Mapplethorpe as my guides, I set out to make images that expressed these themes and my own struggle with body image. The resulting images portray men, at first anonymously, strong and proud, then through different states of reveal, becoming more vulnerable. All the while they are bound by the social mores of their community."