With the #MeToo and #Timesup movements still uncovering multiple cases of toxic masculinity in Hollywood and elsewhere, the Barbican’s exploration of modern modes of masculinity could not be more timely.
Seen through the lens of a camera, Masculinities – Liberation Through Photography looks at how maleness has been depicted in film and photography from the 1960s until the present day. Exploring a range of forms of masculinity from ‘fragile’ to ‘toxic’, Masculinities will seek to understand how such depictions of maleness influence men in their day to day lives.
The Barbican exhibition is split into six sections with a variety of themes including power, patriarchy, hypermasculinity, queer identity, tenderness and family.
Alongside traditional depictions of masculinity, the exhibition will showcase several artists (Sam Contis, Collier Schorr, Adi Nes, Robert Mapplethorpe) who have sought to “disrupt and destabilise” such conventional modes of masculinity with something much more complex.
The exhibition will explore how such artists utilise the traditional myths of masculinity as a starting point for work which often subverts and critically assesses such modes, in the process hinting at bold new forms of masculinity which have yet to be explored.
The new exhibition comprises over 300 pieces from a variety of photographers and filmmakers including Richard Avedon, Isaac Julien, Robert Mapplethorpe and Catherine Opie. The show will also showcase the work of a wide variety of up and coming artists, many of whom are taking part in an exhibition for the first time. The young artists include Sam Contis, Hank Willis Thomas, Karlheinz Weinberger and Marianne Wex.
The institution’s Head of Visual Arts, Jane Alison, said: ‘In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the resurgence of feminist and men’s rights activism, traditional notions of masculinity have become a subject of fierce debate. This exhibition could not be more relevant and will certainly spark conversations surrounding our understanding of masculinity.’
Masculinities – Liberation Through Photography is part of the Barbican’s Inside Out season. The year long programme seeks to “explore the links between our inner lives and creativity” by showcasing artists who “have found pioneering ways to articulate their innermost thoughts, feelings and desires”.
Masculinities – Liberation Through Photography is open from the 13th of July 2020 until the 23rd of August 2020. More information about the exhibition can be found here.
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