Artists exploring gender and masculinity
A note from the Salon curator Francisco De la Barra
Feminist art has shaped the contemporary art scene since the 60’s, and after all this time, I wonder how it has affected the representation of men. Because I think this is a subject worth exploring, I found two artists who explore this subject. Caleb Cole and Jesse Burke are both photographers who touch on the subject of gender and masculinity in very interesting ways.-- FCO
About the artists
At the heart of Caleb Cole's work is a fascination with ambiguities and inconsistencies, an interest in how he goes about negotiating areas of grey and how others manage to do the same. Though he is the physical subject of these images, they are not traditional self-portraits. They are portraits of people he has never met but with whom he feels familiar, as well as documents of the process wherein he tries on the transitional moments of others' lives in order to better understand his own. In public, Caleb watches people going about their daily routines alone; he wonders about the lives they lead, wonder how they experience the world around them and how they make sense of it. He spends time inventing stories for them: narratives of isolation, of questioning and searching, of desire, and of confusion.
Jesse Burke explores the complexity of masculine identity, which is in many ways analogous to the intertidal zone. His images capture those moments "in between," with the idealized notion of manhood on the one side and actually being male on the other. His photographs of men and their landscapes hint at sweetness, but they also embrace the heroic idea of masculinity. Burke is drawn to the tension of vulnerability and grit; to the space between strength and tenderness. Sometimes these images capture the fleeting moment between events. Sometimes they capture the concrete event itself. He photographs the natural world around him as well as the men who are a part of his life, whether family members or friends, to explore the vulnerability of masculinity. He employs concepts such as male bonding and peer influence, masculine rites and rituals, and man’s connectedness to nature in order to expose these instances.