13 years ago I was sitting in my photography studio having just returned from Paris where I was the guest artist and speaker for EYEMAZING, a photography publication based in the Netherlands.
We were there to attend Paris Photo and to launch my limited edition set of playing cards. What made my cards unique was that they each depicted a different image of the nude male body.
This series was both an investigation into emerging online social networks like Craigslist ( where I solicited all my models and yes 13 years ago these online communities were still emerging…. ) as well as a play on flipping the usually gender specific pin-up on its head. My images were dark, brooding and mysterious…Blah, Blah, Blah…
Who knows if this project flipped any gender norms, however, what it did flip was me… After spending countless hours poring over 100’s of photographs, of the amazing men I had worked with, I began to sense an energy emerging from my images. An energy I could not explain.
One afternoon, I was out and about in New York City and there, walking right toward me on the sidewalk was A J, a model I had done a shoot with about 6 months earlier and who’s images I had just been editing.
I smiled, excited to see him again and in typical NY style he looked right through my gaze and brushed by me with absolutely no recognition, I was a stranger to him. This interaction moved me.
When I returned to the studio and again began the editing process I realized that I really knew nothing about the men I was working with. I simply knew them as visual objects. Yes we had spent the time together talking during our photo shoot, but in the end we would both leave with different experiences. I would have photographs and they would have a memory. The physical object parts of my experience never faded, however the purly energetic memories of their experience did. As I looked again at AJ’s photos I realized for the first time in a 3 year project that I knew very little, beyond the superficial about any of the men I photographed. I knew nothing about the energy I was sensing emanate from my work, and as an artist trained in the 20th century at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, I knew nothing about the human body I was attempting to portray…
HMMMMMMM…So in my UBER-GEEK style, less than two weeks later, I found myself sitting in a small, uncomfortable, metal, folding, desk, front and center in Liz Jacobs - A&P-101 class at The Swedish Institute for Massage Therapy in New York City.
At that time I was a stressed out artist, who did not want to be touched and had just turned down a gift certificate for a free massage from my loving partner and now I found myself at the top massage school in the country, on day one of a journey that to this day gets deeper and more beautiful with every body I touch.
And so you have it, with a brief look into my past I can now confidently say that If you want the key to understanding more about this incredibly complex world we are all in together, begin with investigating this incredibly complex body we are all in together.
Brian Riley Licensed Massage Therapist LLC, has locations in Manhattan, New York, Montclair, New Jersey and Fire Island Pines, New York. He works with a diverse group of men and women with artistically unique treatments ranging from relaxation to rehabilitation. If you want to experience your body in a new way come and get on his table ASAP!