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Photos that Challenge Conventions of Beauty, Race, and Gender

Photographer Joseph Maida's new book examines the way global society interprets gender, fantasy, and the ways identity is performed.

by Matthew Leifheit
Oct 6 2015, 4:00am

Photo by Joseph Maida: Ka'ainanui (Hawaiian, Chinese, French, German) 2013

Last year, VICE launched our column "Being Gay is Beautiful In..." with a photograph from New York-based artist Joseph Maida's series New Natives. Maida's images feature aspiring male models set against the primordial landscape of Oahu, Hawaii. Each model took Maida to a local place where they wanted to be photographed, and also listed as many ethnicities as wanted to from their backgrounds, which Maida factored into the titles of the photographs.

Related: Hawaiian Goths photographed by Joseph Maida for Broadly

In a 2013 interview, Joseph told me the series was partly inspired by the election of Barack Obama: "I've always been thinking about identity, particularly in terms of sexuality and masculinity in my work. But when Obama was elected, that seemed like a turning point. For me, his presidency represented a swing in a direction that's more open-minded and accepting. I thought, Hawaii is a really charged place, and it may be the perfect place to explore these issues in more detail."

This fall, Italian publisher L'Artiere Editions came out with a book of the pictures from New Natives. The pictures below are a preview of the book.

Caleb (Japanese) 2010

Aikue (Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish, Portuguese) 2011

Blayze #2 (Filipino, Chinese, Irish, Spanish) 2012

Saburo (Japanese) 2010

Nick (Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Irish, Norwegian, German) 2013

Nathaniel #2 (Hawaiian, Chinese, English) 2012

Remy (Japanese, Black, White, Cherokee) 2012

Buy New Natives here.