Hunk of the Day: Mark MacKillop

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This is no ordinary Hunk of the Day. This is Mark MacKillop – performer, model, and photographer who is currently working on a Kickstarter campaign to fund his coffee-table book, a project that is about as perfect as one can be. Mr. MacKillop spent a year touring the world in a musical, and along the way captured himself in hotels, revealing the paradoxical isolation and disenchantment living a life of performance. I’ve often toyed with the idea of doing a similar project, but I have neither the body to do it, nor the funds to propel myself around the globe. For that reason, it’s thrilling to see Mr. MacKillop execute it so admirably.

At first glance it may seem like a simple vanity project, but as one used to such criticism, I see it as so much more. MacKillop doesn’t just preen and pose, he invites the onlooker into a deeper level of intimacy. There is isolation here, and a sense of loneliness, and even a notion of longing that is palpable in his gaze. Hotel rooms have always been intriguing respites, and here they are given full range and expression as the backdrop to a very human experience. The images MacKillop has captured are not only homoerotic, they are haunting. They are as inviting as they are distancing, creating a dramatic tension that informs even the most private of moments.

Even in this selfie-obsessed world, most people don’t know how difficult it can be to take a picture of yourself. There are the simple logistical concerns – the timing, the posing, the set-up – and then there is the actual moment the photo is taken. There is an artifice of acting involved, but there is also the basic element of truth to it. It may be posed, it may be planned, but the very nature of photography is that it is authentic. A picture tells a thousand words, and most of them are inarguably real.

This man stood here, this is the window out of which he gazed, this is the bed in which he slept. These are irrefutable truths. What he may have been thinking, what was going on behind the camera’s line of vision, and what pushed him to that point are unanswered questions, unknowable by all but the subject.

It’s a fascinating dichotomy, this murky divide between the public and the private, the revealed and the concealed. There are other divisions at work here as well – the artist vs. the man, the seen vs. the unseen, the model vs. the photographer. These are fertile grounds for artistic expression and creative play, but for deeper, darker, more philosophical meanderings as well.

As MacKillop’s gaze vacillates from outward to inward, and back again, the viewer is given access to an interior study, and all the surface beauty gets distilled into something more pure and substantial. The evocative is never given the respect or power it rightfully should command. Neither is the provocative. There’s something lonely and isolating about that too.

{Mark MacKillop’s Kickstarter page is here, and he has a website as well.}

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