Sophia Wallace

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Untitled, Modesty, 2010

chromogenic print, sintra mount, luster archival laminate no plexi or glass, museum frames wood, 40" x 30" x 2.5"

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From the series On Beauty

I am interested in the gendering of aesthetics and how the concept of beauty is tied to sexual objectification. I utilized male models–living representations of idealized masculinity–in order to explore the semiotics of the construction of gender. I was curious to see what the result would be if I photographed men using the unspoken rules that dictate the way women are conventionally posed in photographs and paintings. Shorter than most of the models, I used a to ladder to shoot them from above while directing my subjects to look at me only with a soft expression. Mostly I asked the models to look away– to be looked at. I asked them to hold their arms close to their bodies as if they felt vulnerable. This was not 'natural' for them. In my photographic approach, I strove to uncover aspects of their masculinity which might otherwise be downplayed for fear of appearing effeminate. The tactics of revealing a man's body, directing his emotions into the realm of what is considered feminine, while posing him in a relatively prone position resulted in a non-normative display of masculinity. As viewers, can we look at aestheticized vulnerability without inserting a gendered, sexual agenda onto it? Do beautiful men fall victim to the virgin/whore dichotomy or does their masculinity protect them from this reduction? What does a rejection of the feminized man reveal about misogyny?

Artworks by Sophia Wallace

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