Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Zero degree

Last minutes in Hong Kong.

A new and exciting project growing in my mind as I was on  the express train to the airport. It should be realised in June, when I go  back there to work on Siu Yung's exhibition, Lumières imaginées. However, this time, I won't be playing or singing a single note. The proposition came yesterday as I was trying to set an appointment with Norm Yip and exchanging messages him on my way to the city. I had asked Norm about his new book of photographs to which he replied that he didn't have any recent release. The third one was still in preparation. The mistake came from the pictures I saw in a magazine. I asked him to bring me his first two books the following day, and that led to the next question: When would I pose for him? He had asked me - though tentatively, a few times in the past couple of years. Norm's claim for (relative) fame is essentially through his work on the Asian male nude. I had declined the offer, since I never really considered myself worthy of such ... an honour.
A few weeks ago, I came accross the recent work of Leslie Kee, a Singaporean photographer who does everything from fashion, album covers, to more... intimate works. He displayed his latest work, the Super nude series for an exhibition in Japan at the end of last year. Eight 'IT' guys, hot male celebrities (mostly Japanese, with the notable exceptions of Lady Gaga and Ayumi Hamasaki's beau Manuel Schwartz), actors, models, and also porn stars. Eight books were published for the occasion - not really books, more like luxurious magazines (very reminiscent in style of Andy Warhol's Interview, while the photos obviously bear a very strong resemblance in style with Terry Richardson or David LaChapelle's works...)
Leslie Kee followed these hotties and got more than a glimpse at them in their intimacy. It's funny, sexy, sometime hilarious, but artistically as arousing as porn. And porn it was, basically, since those 'it' guys would be often seen in their birthday suit, and joyously - and shamelessly 'playing' with themselves...
So when Norm said that he wanted to take pictures of me, I gave it a second thought.
My appointment with Norm was the last I had in Hong Kong. I was about to change my ticket and stay a little longer. But I already had other engagements.
The past days had been so fulfilling and energising that I wanted to bask a little longer under that pleasant sun.
I felt I could do anything. The play Devant mes Yeux | Before my Eyes was likely to be premiered next year in Hong Kong and in Vietnam. It's new to me, but I make things happen for myself, instead of waiting for other to initiate projects.  
So that photo shoot is a natural move for me.

But to avoid the trap of self indulgence and vanity, I told him my vision for the shooting: it had to be an editorial, with a narrative which will involve other characters.
Norm was all for it. I mentioned a few films which inspired me: LanYu, Spring Fever and of course Happy Together.  Not on a visual level, since Norm will work in black and white. But for the mood and the themes.
"We have to create a sense of tension, maybe suggest what/who is missing by choosing the place and the props." I  explained. "If you just show a good looking model, the sight will be pleasant for the eyes for an instant and he will probably be forgotten when the page is turned. Unless there is a sense of emergency. That can only be created if there is dramaturgy involved."
We brainstormed for a little while. Norm was toying with the idea of bondage. I was not so enchanted by it, but didn't rule off the suggestion. I thought of the dance piece that Huang Yi  is currently developing, Double Yellow Line. So I imagined...
A male prostitute. He's lost. He has a girlfriend who doesn't know how handle him and patiently suffers her woes in secret. He has a young rich lover who is dangerously passionate, possessive and extremely jealous of his clients. Then this lover plans to 'buy' him for one night and sets up an appointment without telling it's him. Unaware of that, the prostitute decides to ends the love affair because he feels it's leading to a dead end. He meets his lover on the rooftop of a building. The two of them fight violently, then say farewell to eachother, dancing a milonga, as a reminisce of happier time.
We then see the prostitute entertaining clients in dodgy bars at late night hours, at home with his girlfriend, but there's a cold and silent world between them.
Then comes the appointment. It takes place in a hotel room. When the lovers appears in all his youth and splendor, the prostitute knows something will happen, but he doesn't want nor try to escape.

I think I'll ask someone to come and film the scenes. That could end up as a little short film which can illustrate a song.
Norm's comment: "Back to the script. Tension, doom or gloom always seems more appealing, especially in a sexual kind of way."

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