In the era of #MeToo, and its French version #BalanceTonPorc, it somehow seems wrong today to proudly exhibit one's masculinity. So thinks Jane Alison, director of the visual arts department at the Barbican in London, and curator of the exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. Featuring 300 works by some 50 international artists, the exhibition explores the social construct of the concept of masculinity from the 1960s to now. How it has been experienced, coded, interpreted and documented by photography and the cinema. 

 

Through the lenses of Richard AvedonPeter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Robert MapplethorpeAnnette Messager and Catherine Opie, man has a thousand faces. Whether he is the father of a family, a sex-symbol or a company manager, whether he assumes his queerness or is sporty, here he appears in all his many forms. The clear contradiction between this vast array of images reveals the extent to which the very definition of masculinity is relative and in a state of flux. By confronting the heteronormative stereotypes to which the male human is supposed to conform in our western societies, the exhibition makes us rethink the concept of masculinity in all its beautiful diversity and complexity. 

 

 

“Masculinities: Liberation through Photography”, from February 20th to May 17th 2020, at the Barbican Art Gallery in London.