Australian aerialist Arian Levanael performs around the world and is primarily based in London. In 2009, he posed for this set of shots in London by Dylan Rosser.
Back then, I stole some time out of Ari’s mystic schedule to shoot him a few questions.
Mark Adnum: Ari, whenever I see an image of you, I think of the 9 of Pentacles. What’s your take on this?
Ari Levanael: For me 9 of Pentacles represents a kind of earthy grace. A way to carry yourself, a state of being and focus. It has a lot to do with how in work and society we are perceived and how this can sometimes be appropriate. How other people see us can be important especially if it has to do with our work.
So yeah, I guess its good that you think of that card and associate it with me because image makes up a part of my work and how I am in my shows and photo shoots.
There is something noble and refined about that card, so I’m flattered! I think at certain times cards that represent me and what I’m doing may change.
But for now, I’m happy with that card!
M: In my imagination you live the glamourous life of a circus supermodel. Is this anywhere near the reality?
A: A circus supermodel?!! Interesting combination! Well, I have been in front of a camera for about 16 years now, so I guess I’m experienced with that, but I would hardly call myself a supermodel!
I’m still surprised when at 35 I’m being chased by photographers. I guess I lead a colourful life, I perform all over the world, I get shot by amazing photographers all over the world and get published in magazines and books and stuff, but its really not that glamourous! I don’t get paid vast amounts of money (yet) and I’m not friends with Madonna (yet).
But i get to create and be creative, express myself through my art and others art - so I’m thankful for that.
I’m an earthy kinda guy, I stick to myself and I’m very quiet. The image and the reality are very different I think. For some people, my life would be glamorous filled with parties, shows and knowing a lot of performers and photographers, but to me its just normal. You get desensitised i think.
For someone that works in a bank or has what might be considered an uncreative job, they might think of my life as colourful, but we all have our place and purpose, there is no right or wrong, good or bad. I’ve been called eccentric before and I’m sure i will be again! I do enjoy my life, I made it this way and I don’t take anything for granted.
M: Is beauty a blessing or a curse?
A: Beauty is all around us. It’s important to find beauty in everything. So its a blessing definitely, a blessing to be able to see it and find it.
If someone can find beauty in me then I’m really honoured. Its flattering to be asked by amazing photographers to be shot, especially when I admire their work. but to tell you the truth, I don’t look at myself and think, “Gee I’m hot! Or wow - I’m really beautiful” that would just be weird!
I cant see the appeal, but its not for me to see, its for everyone else to see and decide. I’m just me. I see myself all the time.
If people like looking at my pics and find me attractive in some way, then all I can say is thank you. It took me a long time to be able to take a compliment, many times I would just turn it around and pass the compliment off, but nowadays, I am sincere in my thanks and I just change the subject. It still makes me a little awkward, but I’m improving!
I can admire beauty in other people, I know it when i see a guy or girl I find attractive and I think they will look hot in front of a camera. So I think if people think the same way about me then great!
I think some people might think I’m egocentric as I have so many images of myself around. I’m really not though. Its all part of work. It’s been 16 years in front of a camera, so naturally i would have a lot of pics. For some reason, now as I get older more people want to shoot me. And I just love photography, its my only other passion other than aerial work.
M: You’ve done some really interesting things with the surface of your body via tattooing. Would you consider going under the knife?
A: At this stage Ive not considered going under the knife. I’m not attracted to the idea at all. I really dont like needles and hospitals and scalpels, so its not good for me.
Who knows what I will be like in the future, but I cant imagine having plastic surgery. I think growing old gracefully is sexy. Men can get away with it more than women I think. There seems to be less pressure placed on men by the media to look younger. Besides, everyone loves a Daddy type don’t they? Age kinda crept up on me, I didn’t realise I was getting older until people started saying, “you look amazing for your age!” and I was like gee, thanks!
I still feel young and I don’t think I’ve changed that much - just more grey hairs - but nope to surgery right now! As long as you feel young at heart I think you exude a youthful energy. Besides, age is experience and experience is wisdom, and that’s a sexy thing.
The tattooing is different, that more of a representation of what I align myself to and the lessons I’ve learned. I’m happy to change my skin tone by tattooing, it has more meaning for me than having a facelift.
My tattoos represent a symbolic source of learning and meaning for myself. It’s really personal and is a really long story!
M: Do you still call Australia home?
A: Yup, sure do. Although I live in Europe most of the time these days, I get back to Oz as much as possible. I like to escape the London winters. So I can’t wait to get home this summer! It’s been snowing here today, and as much as I love the look of snow, and rugging up wearing loads of layers, I would prefer to be on the beach wearing not much at all and getting a tan.
All my family is there in Oz, and my friends are there so its very much home still. London is home but in a different way. Not in an “I have my childhood memories here way”. But still home.
To tell you the truth, Earth is home. I’m happy to go anywhere and experience it. To walk the land and feel like a local. That’s a great joy.
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