Words and film photography by Lucy Hawthorne
This series stems from my own interpretation and understanding of what masculinity is in the 21st century. I’ve looked at how our sometimes unrealistic expectations of men has potentially lead towards this trend in the rise in mental illnesses and general trepidation amongst young men to be perceived and needed as a provider, father, lover, friend and figurehead - all at once. I photographed the men closest to me, from my brother to my boyfriend at that time, in order to gain some deeper understanding of male emotion. In the private realm of a bedroom I asked the men to pose nude. Nakedness is a true reflection of vulnerability and by shooting in this way, one to one, over extended periods of time, my relationships with my subjects becomes stronger.
I photographed my subjects as soon as they woke up. This time of the day is usually considered as private, a time of reflection and contemplation before the day breaks. And for me to intrude on these early hours enabled me to frame them in a very honest way.
I think the natural morning light leaks through in fragments, reflecting off their skin. I also think all of my subjects with their shirts removed and stripped back, look a lot younger and more vulnerable than they actually are. The repeated image of hairless chests and sharp collarbones sexualizes the images but the pain and anguish on their faces contradict this.
It isn't my place to digress how or, even if these men suffer, more to comment on the struggles of masculinity as a whole. Although the individuals I photographed do themselves struggle with this perception of men, they are modern representations of them and reflect a personal relationship between myself and them, sitter and artist; photographer and subject; man and woman.
The work was on display for five days at the Regency Town House in Brighton last January 2017. The curation was sporadic and the prints were scattered across the walls in the order I shot them where the negative space of the white frames were representative of my closeness to each sitter. The images of my brother, for example were full bleed on the page as opposed to the photos of a subject about whom I knew very little in comparison to the others where the print was smaller and surrounded by white space. The body of work is far from complete and is a project which requires longevity. This is something I intend to work on continuously over the coming years as my relationships change and knowledge and my understanding of the male mind evolves.