Update: Since we surpassed our original goal, we are able to expand the book from 96 to 112 pages! We are hoping to continue to raise funds so we can improve other attributes of the book, like upgrading the end papers. Some of the things we would like to do are not always obvious but have a different feel when holding the book in your hands.
Focused on themes of isolation, desire, conflict and empowerment, Ron Amato’s photographic series and upcoming book, The Box, speaks to human experiences of self-discovery and community building. Using a series of boxes to create visual metaphors, Ron echoes his development from adolescence to adulthood through over 100 color, and black and white photographs. Evoking first his youth in Brooklyn, New York during the 1960s and 1970s, moving through his coming out as a gay man and to his present position as a respected professional photographer and teacher, Ron creates a vivid portrait of struggle and triumph.
Individually the photographs evoke powerful responses. However, they achieve the scope of their power only in relation to each other.
Reflecting the square of the boxes in the photographs, this 96-page book is designed in a 10-inch square format. It has a hard cover and dust jacket. It is available with an embossed, cloth covered slipcase at specific pledge levels. The printing will be of the highest quality from a renowned Italian printing house.
Boxes trap, boxes hide, boxes protect, you receive gifts in boxes. We’re told to "think outside the box.” Pandora had a box.
This project uses boxes as vehicles for expressing different stages of my life as a gay man. The object at once represents an obstacle and a tool for acceptance and pride. The Box represents eight concepts that follow the arc of of my life from isolation to empowerment. Along the way I grappled with adversity and conflict, longed to be in love, found ways to satiate desires, eventually becoming empowered and connecting with community.
The project developed slowly. I analyzed each shoot, looking for clues that evoke emotions associated with my journey, and learning how they related to each other. I used old boxes that showed signs of damage from age and use. I constructed new boxes, at first raw and unfinished, then adding finish in stages until the imperfections were almost eliminated.
These images represent a collaboration with over thirty men. They reflect a diversity of ages, cultures, races and lifestyles. We started each shoot discussing the themes of the project and what I was trying to communicate. Initial images involved interacting with a box, each collaborator bringing their own voice to the project. It was very much like a performance, each bringing a unique physicality to the project. The dynamics shifted as I choreographed the interactions, putting together men who were strangers, lovers, husbands, friends and coworkers. I only intervened if I could encourage deeper exchange and exploration. As the project progressed, I was able to refine my communication with models to get very specific results, having found words to reflect ideas that resonated with me since the beginning of the project.
Interpretation of images is personal. What one might see as conflict, another might view as connection. There is a fine line between isolation and longing. Community often grows out of desire. Processes are fluid and oftentimes nonlinear. Yet, no matter how expressed, the struggles of betterment are deeply felt by us all regardless of the distinctions of our own stories.
Most of my artwork explores issues of sexuality. The enigma of attraction has been an ongoing question. With The Box I was able to explore those themes more deeply, helping me develop a better understanding of myself as a gay man and the larger gay universe. Getting to know my collaborators, and seeing the dynamics between them, has enlightened me to the diversity of human experience within a specific demographic. I therefore see myself in a different light as part of that group and as an individual. I feel a bond with the men who are part of this project, as they embody parts of my own self-discovery and have advanced my interactions with a wider gay community. I am confident that my work will take a different trajectory because of the knowledge and awareness I gained making this project. I can move on from many of the questions that have puzzled me in the past. However, attraction still remains an enigma, maybe more now then ever.
The Box project has been in production for two years. Countless hours of pre-production, shooting and post-production have already gone into the project. Preparing the boxes, casting, shooting and post-production/retouching has been the main focus of Ron and his assistants during this time.
Other costs include a camera person and editor for the videos, a copy editor for all the text and the promotional materials when the book is released.
The book's construction and design will be of the highest quality. The book will be printed in Italy with multiple test proofs to insure quality. We want to make sure we deliver a product backers can be proud of.
Disclaimer: All draft pages are subject to change in the final book.
Risks and challenges
Production time is an estimate. Although all the photography is complete, there is still some editing and post-production to be done. Final selection of images is a fluid process. Thousands of photographs have been made for this project. Creating the right dynamic between images, and connection between sections is crucial to the ultimate viewer experience.
The quality of the book is assured because I am partnering with a professional publishing company to guide every stage of production. In addition, the book will be printed at one of the finest printing houses in Italy.
We will do our best to ship all books and prints in early January 2017. There is always a chance of a delay. The first priority is to make sure the book is of the highest quality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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