Laura Stevens : Corps d'hommes 5/09 - 31/10/2020
Galerie Miranda is delighted to present a solo exhibition of photographs by English artist Laura Stevens (b. 1977), on the subject of the male nude.
In the ongoing battle against the objectification of the female body and the gender stereotypes that have entrapped women for centuries, several major exhibitions in the last decade have brought their focus to representations of the male body. In 2013 the Musée d'Orsay in Paris considered the history of the male nude in art, from the classical ideal to the realism of Schiele and the homoerotic of Pierre et Gilles. In January 2020, against the backdrop of the #metoo movement and the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, the Barbican museum in London organized the exhibition 'Masculinities: Liberation through photography'. Extensively researched, these exhibitions considered the array of stereotypes that have defined men's identity over the centuries but also allowed it to evolve. The Barbican exhibition presented critical points of view by 55 major artists, of which 16 were women (Rineke Dijkstra, Karen Knorr, Catherine Opie, Annette Messager...) who each explore specific masculine stereotypes.
In contrast, Laura Stevens' photographs of men are devoid of judgement or caricature. In a quest for a personal vision of masculine beauty, Stevens photographs the bodies of men of different ages with a gaze that is observant, curious, open and sensual yet not sexualized. Stevens is interested in the lines and forms created by the men's poses, finding beauty and humanity in each unique body, irrespective of their proportions. Thus exposed, the men are simultaneously virile and vulnerable; muscled and gracile; confident and shy. With great simplicity and a soft photographic palette that recalls realist painting, Stevens captures their individuality with a contemporary feminist vision that is fundamentally egalitarian.
"In making the series Him, over the course of one year I invited over fifty men to my home to be photographed naked. Most were strangers, and it would be the first time we met. Stripping my bed to a white sheet, my most intimate space became a site for the man to be at his most intimate. An area with defined boundaries to move within, into which I would look, and he would be looked at. Being a woman, at the age of forty, contemplating the naked male body feels curiously problematic. With representations of the male nude predominantly made by male artists, there is a lack of imagery exploring a female sensual response to male beauty. Regardless of the advances made in recognizing women’s capacity for and right to visual pleasure, the historically dominant male gaze prevails. Pursuing a way of looking at and portraying man, I questioned the cliched symbols of a ‘hard’ and ‘active’ masculinity which deny vulnerability or the supposed feminine qualities of ‘soft’ and ‘passive’. Allowing oneself to be the object of another’s gaze requires yielding one’s control and allowing for a revealing to occur, both physically and emotionally. To be naked-as-an-object – to become a nude – furthers this uncovering. In photographing this series of men I was entrusted with this exposure. Within this encounter, between him and me, what would I see?" - Laura Stevens
With this new exhibition the gallery continues its exploration of one of its central themes: the presentation of artists and subjects whose practice is unconventional, whether by their technique or by their choice of subject. The gallery's inaugural exhibition of works by artist Jo Ann Callis, presented her unique, surreal, erotic female vision; the work- by Marina Berio presented in 2018 explored the triangular relationship mother-husband/father-son; Merry Alpern's cult series 'Dirty Windows' shows a world normally forbidden to female eyes. The exhibitions by Ellen Carey, Nancy Wilson-Pajic and John Chiara express the gallery's other artistic axis, of presenting artists with experimental and innovative photographic practices to create unique works.