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Zun Lee’s portrait Brendan and Tyrice is an image of trust, love, and intimacy. It documents a moment in daily life, during which Brendan teaches his partner Tyrice how to float in a pool. Their physical proximity, the clarity of the water, the lightness of Tyrice’s floating body, and Brendan’s smile, convey tenderness and pleasure.

This photograph is part of Holding Patterns, a series Lee began in 2016. It incorporates photography, social practice, and storytelling to explore how queer Black men connect with one another. Lee elaborates on the project: “I seek to question one-dimensional ideas in mainstream visual culture that portray Black masculinity either as hyper-sexual, violent, and cool, or simply carefree.” Embedding himself in the daily lives of his sitters, who play a collaborative role in making the portraits, Lee aims to capture private moments that encourage multilayered ideas of identity and belonging.

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