Joseph Maida is a New York–based artist whose work deals with the fluid nature of identity. For his ongoing series New Natives (Hawai'i), Maida photographs aspiring male models from the Aloha State against the spectacular natural backdrops of the islands. These models are often ambiguous in their ethnicity and gender, and Maida works from this liminal territory of slippery, shifting definitions to raise questions about the nature of beauty and the performance of both masculinity and sexuality.
When VICE's soon-to-be-launched women's channel, Broadly, needed photos for a story on Hawaii's dwindling goth population, Maida was the first person we thought to ask. "Identity is often a projection of how you want to be perceived," he told me in an interview. "It's a fantasy." Luckily, he happened to be in Hawaii last month for an exhibition of New Natives at the University of Hawaii, and he found time to photograph our goths against the exotic backdrop of Honolulu. Although these darkly clad figures may appear at odds with their sunny, tropical environment, Maida points to the relativity of these kinds of judgments: "I'm interested in the relativity of exoticism, because if you're from Hawaii, the landscape is not exotic. New York is exotic."
Maida's work will be on view in the University of Hawaii's exhibition On O'ahu: Two Views through April 10. Look for more Hawaiian goths this summer on Broadly.