Sex and Gender studies: Boys
This work was produced as a part of Danube Revisited - The Inge Morath Truck Project". It has spent the last three years touring Europe as part of the Fundacion Telefinica production, Danube Revisited.
“Boys” explores masculinity through the frame of the feminine gaze. In 2014 I travelled the length of the Danube River over a 5 week period visiting every Roma community I could find along the way. I travelled alone with no common language and visited each place for only a few hours. Depending on chance encounters and body language allowed me to photograph without an intellectual agenda, and to allow a common humanity to bring about a series of fleeting intimacies with strangers.
What became apparent quite early on, was the unusual amount of male attention I was getting. Unavoidably I started to photograph the concept of masculinity, as women disappeared into the sidelines and men postured for the camera. My first day photographing I became surrounded by males aged somewhere between 5 and 50, who started asking me for sex (a reasonable amount can be inferred through body language and a few words). Then the dicks started coming out, so I just started laughing and photographing. When things became a bit too grabby I shook them off, got in my car and sped away. In varying ways, some lovely - some not, this masculine theme continued to emerge.
While the work is made in Roma communities, the underlying narrative is universal. Masculinity can be beautiful but when bent out of shape it can be devastating. By framing this work through an empowered feminine gaze the vision of man becomes sensual, maternal, softer.
In Australia I was first flashed at age 6. In the Roma community I was flashed by boys that looked as young as 6. These innocent young boys are simply imitating what is role modelled as masculine behaviour. Women and men all over the world experience the serious negative effects of toxic masculinity, but this should not blind us to the admirable qualities attributed to masculinity. During my time with the Roma I met an older man who spoke english. When I asked him about the reputation of the Roma men, he replied "There are many types of tree in a forrest". His words are a reminder to not paint one colour with this work. I want to show the light and the dark.