Sunday, April 9, 2017
Missing Chapters: Gareth by Pierre-Yves Monnerville
'The texts are an attempt to go beyond pleasing the eye and share or confront experiences or point of view on sexuality, homosexuality, relationships, self confidence, growing older, loneliness...'
The quote above comes from the description to Pierre-Yves Monnerville's 2009 book Diaries. Pierre's quote resonated with me as in many ways, it sums up the motivation behind FH. At heart I am a writer, and telling the stories behind the images I feature is what stimulates my interest in the men in front of, and behind the camera.
There is nothing wrong of course with enjoying an image solely based on the visual. Art is about the artist telling a story through their work. For me however, an images is like the front cover of a book. Sometimes the cover is enough, I glace, enjoy the visual and then move on. Other times however, with the images I feature on FH, the cover has me curious to investigate and find out more about the stories behind the cover's creation.
With the subject being art, and the male form, the stories frequently stem from creative concepts, often accompanied by interesting, funny, and frequently arousing and even erotically stimulating tales of the process. As humans, we all have stories, most however do, and should, remain untold. Many of the photographers and models I have interviewed have included stories 'off the record' tales that they would rather not have made public. As a writer, it can be frustrating at times telling an 'incomplete' story, one with chapters that have to be left out of the manuscript and final final published piece.
As soon as I saw Pierre's images of Gareth (mr nice), I sensed there was a story to tell. There seemed a bit of a disconnect between his big beautiful muscled body, and the emotions flowing from his wide blue eyes. Sadly, I can only share the images, and part of the story as Pierre shared that Gareth died a few years back.
This shoot was from 2008. Gareth was a straight bodybuilder, but dabbled in nude shoots and solo videos to help support and finance his training. Pierre describes Gareth as being being very quiet and reserved during their shoots. Professional and business like, Gareth was willing to try anything that might work, yet at the same time rarely showed interest in the final outcome. Gareth did however seem genuinely happy with working with Pierre and the completed photos, but again, from a business perspective.
The connection between body building and nude modeling is a natural one. You spend so many hours working out and in the gym to achieve results. The end goal, to show off your body to both judges and the public at a competition. Pierre always had the feeling that Gareth wasn't totally comfortable with the homo-erotic aspect of some of the work and videos he was doing. Gareth considered it part of what he needed to do in order to continue bodybuilding professionally.
I would love to have been able to follow Gareth's story beyond this mid-point in his life and career. Many people in their thirties, struggle with their career, and spend countless hours trying to figure out how they want to spend the rest of their lives. My guess, or maybe more, my hope is, that like most of us, within a few years things would have settled and Gareth would be on the path he desired. Although Gareth sadly had many missing chapters, for this piece, Pierre's words about one of their final shoots, seems an appropriate last chapter for this piece.
'I shot these images of Gareth as part of my Men in the Dark series. The series was motivated by my annoyance at how most people reacted to the photos I showed. Most people seemed only interested in whether they found the models attractive, how muscly the guy was or the size of his cock… I tried to make those men generic so to speak.'