Captured through the non-conformist scope of the gay male gaze, the soon-to-be-published photobook X is a 10-year photographic culmination of the multidimensional male subject. Named as such in regard to the roman numeral among other poetic undertones, X is the second book to be self-published by London-based photographer Charles Moriarty. A manifestation of Moriarty’s artistic evolution, the body of work encapsulates and explores the many dynamic, alluring, and intimate forms of the male figure.
Creator of Before Frank, Charles Moriarty is recognized for his work with the “real Amy Winehouse” in the tender period of time prior to the release of her debut album and her climb to fame. Captured in the unassuming and comfortable footholds of their friendship, the nature of the long-ago photoshoot is somewhat synonymous with Moriarty’s current work, engulfed in intimate honesty.
Charles Moriarty spoke with PROVOKR on his focus of the male subject, noting, “As a gay man, it’s hard not to be intrigued with men and their many varied molds — and it’s never just one thing that I feel drawn to […] I’m drawn to and intrigued by the many ways male physique and personality can be portrayed in the medium.”
Influenced by some of the greats, such as Peter Hujar, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Larry Clark, and Robert Mapplethorpe, Moriarty muses on the objectives and implications of his trade. “In my work, so many things are dependant on intent,” he says. “If I take a photograph of a body, I have to think why — “Am I trying to have it represent something? Am I objectifying it? Am I sexualizing it?””
A perfectionist of the craft, Moriarty reflects on the past decade and the embodiment of fear through his photography. “I went through a stage in my twenties when I stopped taking photographs because I was afraid of making mistakes […] I enjoy the mistakes now, and the fear is more a driver than anything else […] There is fear but there is also freedom, joy, and magic.”
Intrinsically human and all-around grounding, X celebrates the interconnectivity and beauty in the various walks of life portrayed by Moriarty. The book is a reminder of the multi-faceted aspects of the male physique and spirit — extending from intense and powerful to graceful and delicate, as well as all the spaces in between. In contemplating the book’s impact, Moriarty commented, “I hope some kid who was like me, searching for himself between the pages of books, finds what he’s looking for.”