Artist Brian Ellison of Houston, Texas, presents UnMASKunlinity, which explores the complexity of African American masculinity by documenting the daily lives of the Black experience and same-gender loving comradery, simultaneously creating safe spaces for Black men to engage in this dialogue. By dismantling the stigma associated with Black masculinity and speaking about subjects that are traditionally taboo in the Black community, the film impacts viewers and participants by allowing them to gain perspective on how the emotional boundaries that were created centuries ago, beginning with American slavery, have been passed down—reflected in how today’s Black men understand and experience their emotions.
Brian Ellison is a self-taught photographer, cinematographer, and conceptual visual artist. He is the director and producer of the film UnMASKulinity and the founder of The Black Man Project. Ellison believes there is no limit to self-expression and that art is a universal language that can be the catalyst for healing. Through his lens, Ellison documents the everyday Black experience such as gentrification’s impact on historical communities, under-publicized Black love and comradery, parenthood, and the persistent courage of Black women and men.
Brian Ellison, unMASKulinity, 2020; video, Time: 48:52; Courtesy of the artist.