David-Simon Dayan, the twenty-four year-old Los Angeles-based artist, examines the male form in his latest exhibition, Ballerino. Using 35mm film to capture intimate moments of male ballet dancers, David-Simon explores what it means to be a person, to be a queer person, to reckon race, identity, and freedom.
Ballerino began as a response to Robert Mapplethorpe’s work on the human disposition but has since evolved into an expanded visual study on queerness, race, the human form, and the complexity of discipline. “These subjects are some of the most captivating I’ve had the honor of photographing; the potential energy in their physical beings, the kinetic rawness of their bodies, and their statuesque gravitas, the result of their labor and dedication to movement. ” – David-Simon Dayan
I believe male-bodied people should be given permission to be tender and soft. The world of ballet champions the feminine. We’re all familiar with the ballerina, but the term Ballerino isn’t recognized in the English language. Instead, we refer to them simply as male ballet dancers, which conveys a sense of afterthought.
Liberation lives not just in women growing stronger, but in men growing softer, in gender lines blurring to give way to truly individual expression.