Michael Svizzero

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American society encourages men to perform gender in a way that celebrates and promotes a heteronormative system of gender that celebrates a toxic masculinity. Men are often praised for qualities such as the ability to suppress emotion as well as the use of violence as an indicator of power. This aggressive archetype can often be seen in film and media. The over reliance on this gendered archetype alienates those who do not conform or subscribe to that system. I am creating a series of images dealing with and critiquing the heteronormative toxic-masculine archetype that has been placed on me and anyone who does not necessarily fit into ‘social norms’. Additionally I address the effects this can have on your mental health using research based in psychology and sociology. I am using visual means and incorporated texts to bring my research narrative of this topic along with my own personal reflections into my own life into fruition.

Self portrait triadic inspired by the black and white sequences of Duane Michals. The sequence is supposed to demonstrate through my performances a feeling of uncertainty. Wether specifically relating to gender identity or sexuality, this image is meant to display this physical torn nature that many queer people feel being confined, restricted, and/or condition in this very hetero-normal society.
Heavy Shoulders
Wearing my father's old suit, this image represents my attempts, growing up, to fulfill and display the attributes that society says men have to be. Referring specifically to a time when, at a funeral as a kid, I was scolded and told how "real men don't cry", the suit also acts as a physical connector to this incident of men policing other men on how to be a 'proper man'. Being such a gendered and garment of a status, the suit does not sit properly on my form with the my expression conveying an insecurity, and discomfort that these social norms placed on me as a queer man growing up.
A Lush
This piece is the most freeing piece of the collection, representing the breath of relief and the release one feels as a queer man when you are finally free from societal pressures that had always confined and restricted queer people. Taking on a more sexually free and erotic take to the first triadic "crossfires".
Erotic Stares
This piece, shown at Culture Lab in New York during Pride Month 2021, is referring to the male gaze and how people outside that gaze are too often eroticize, objectified, and diminished for being outside of that heteronormative norm. Additionally the mask and expression through the eyes represent a common feeling I like to portray in my work, which is entrapment and this idea that many people outside of the systematical 'norm' are trapped in this gaze of being an almost wild free animal yet trapped under a heteronormative gaze.
Including performance and personal life experience to support a larger idea is a huge aspect of my work. Additionally, the role clothing plays as either a tool for freedom and expression or a product of oppression and standards is something I wanted to speak with in this image. Referring to a story in my childhood, I wanted to think about how the way one is presented can completely and unfairly distract from the accomplishments the wearer has.

Michael Svizzero is an artist/photographer from Holbrook, Massachusetts. He received his BFA in Photography at Parsons School of Design in New York City in 2021 with a semester at SACI College of Art and Design in Florence, Italy. A queer artist, his work is researched and largely inspired by queer visuality, representation, and personal reflections. With an interest in gender norms he often uses his work to comment on how conditioning can effect queer people among others outside of a social system.

United States
United States
Los Angeles



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