I Can Make You Feel Good by Tyler Mitchell. Published by Prestel.
Tyler Mitchell challenges the stereotypical views of his community, depicting his subjects with unbridled energy and hope for the future. Although I humbly hail from a slightly different background halfway around the globe, I still feel a strong connection with the vision seen through his lens. I think many of us can commiserate with the themes of ethnicity and appearance, and we know how tedious it can be to constantly be judged on such exterior markers alone. I am my own person. My identity is the product of an ongoing, deliberate endeavor to become the person I aspire to be. Identity is an active rather than a passive process, and not something that is handed down automatically or biologically. Mitchell’s book is important to me, precisely because it presents a precious opportunity to ponder my state of being and reconsider the direction I am headed. His work also provides the otherwise much-needed reassurance that discerning, creative individuals can remain faithful to their rebellious spirit while also still maintaining a positive outlook on life.
Moreover, I’m especially drawn to his use of color. His predilection for soft, gentle pastels resonates with the Japanese aesthetic mentality, where softness connotes other cultural undertones than in the West. Far from a mark of weakness, a soft touch can even be the most effective form of defiance. Since at least the middle ages, Japanese classical literature has sung the praises of soft, understated resistance, favoring subtlety over overt, outspoken gestures. I find that I more readily respond to ambiguity, and feel culturally at home in Mitchell’s color palette. It feels good to know that one does not need to be loud or dictatorial to be heard. His work is a gentle testament to the merits of authenticity, and being true to oneself.
POOL by Taro Hirano
Ilmatar by Momo Okabe
Publisher of Session Press, manager at Dashwood Books and writer for IMA and VOSTOK magazines, Tokyo. Based in New York City.
Portrait by Cory Rice.