Marcus Branch, 26, photographer + artist.
I know that blackness in the future will no longer be viewed as unequal or defined only by struggles and hardships from the past.
That will just be a verse in our victory song.
My approach to photography isn’t always me coming up and saying “ahhh I know what I want to do and this is exactly what it’s supposed to be.”
It’s more-so a learning process. It’s me learning about myself as a Black man in America and in this era. It’s also me learning about myself as a gay man. So much of it is self-exploration.
Knowing that, my approach to the male studies project was to do a sort of ongoing series that explores the identity of the “male" while celebrating people of color. It was to encourage diversity and to contribute a positive perspective of the often misrepresented. I imagined this work in galleries, and exhibits on a large scale. Instead of Tumblr pages where I often see a lot of our Black bodies fetishized.
It’s about me injecting us into these spaces.
That tattooed person who was walking behind you as you were catching the L at 11 o’clock, made you feel nervous. But if I make him look directly in your face, you can see the softness in his eyes. That's what my work does. I love putting that in a museum or a gallery where it’s not only us, or my people, who are going to see it.
They’re going to think “Whoa. What is he doing here?”
They’ll have to take it in, in a different way. They think, " Wow he is beautiful. Oh that’s what the tattoo says?"
In the future, I see a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a Black man.
A lot of the strength I’ve witnessed in my life came from femininity. A lot of the weakness I witnessed came from ideas of masculinity.
The people walking around like “macho men" tend to be the most afraid inside. If I walk around and “act masculine” that’s not going to make me straight or change anything. It just changes how I perform in society.
I never understood why we feel we have to boil everything down to A or B. That’s what has to go in the future, this whole idea of binaries and categorization. It’s not that simple. It’s a lot more complex.
Look at how life is. You were so sure of some things when you were 12, it changed when you were 16 and was something else when you became 21. You’re entire life you’re not one thing or one concept.
In the future, masculinity and Black masculinity will be defined by the strength, courage and ability to own yourself. You can stand tall and say, "this is what I feel, this is what I do and this is what I like right now." As opposed, "I like this but I’m not going to let my homies know."
The future will be the strength and the courage to accept and be yourself and your responsibility to contribute that to society.
Marcus' Revolutionary Picks:
Ru Paul, Petey Greene and Barack Obama.
Yeah, I said Obama. Call it cliche but each of these individuals represent and inspire the future that I want. One of inclusion, furthered understanding, unity amongst all and a strong sense of self!