Male: Real/Ideal – The Mill – Til 27th September

SMA Kryztoff banner Jul 13 01 100dpi998772_370962579697982_1284297326_nBy Peter Maddern

The premise of this exhibition is that thin young men feel isolated in a society that posits the likes of Tatum Channing and Taylor Lautner as exhibit A in how to be a man.

One has to express some incredulity about this in terms of it being a massive societal problem. The passage between adolescence and adulthood is, of course, a challenging one as individual selves are carved out and the social conformity of school and even Uni days breaks apart in the dash for ‘success’. But in a society where (inter alia) obesity is considered an epidemic, European fashion mags favour petite over pecs and where the national game has always required a team of various physical conformities one has to wonder when being thin became mentally dangerous. 

One thinks other causes, such as sexuality, an absence of trusted male role models (especially where fathers have hashed up), insecurity and immaturity may lurk beneath the surface but being a photographic exhibition by definition this display only asks us to consider matters that are, indeed, skin deep. For looking good is a hard wired evolutionary drive and so perhaps we shouldn’t condemn Messrs Lautner and Channing for being its current poster boys. In any case, if societal pressure makes one feel so afraid to put oneself out there, it seems odd that a number of the models in Male: Real/Ideal have so embraced having their bodies torched for the benefit of the tattoo industry.

Not that any of this runs to the sincerity on the issue or indeed the courage of the models on display here. The exhibition put together by Kat Coppock and Brodie Paparella is of seven model / photographer collaborations for a pair images each, one representative of a safe place and the other one less comfortable. The results are simply excellent and they benefit in many instances from the stories told about them mentioned where they hang. The collection highlights an array of styles and attempts at portraying photographically the mood and disposition of the model, or perhaps more correctly, the subject of the images.

Kat’s own pieces with Stephen McEntee are a highlight, especially Duck and Weave where Mr McEntee is being pelted with footballs by members of a ladies AFL squad; there is delightful balance about the hurtling Sherrins in flight that sits in contrast to the role reversal being played out. Amy Herrmann has created two highly post produced images that suitably are titled Dream One and Dream Two. The former shows subject Guillaume Fondran floating nude looking down from a layer of clouds; in the latter he is facing towards the camera, again looking down, but this time still and alone as he is swamped by a railway station like crowd that bustles by. The sense of isolation, whether viewing on or when within the rest of society is most palpable.

Dave Laslett’s image of Luke Digance in Hideaway brings a Surrealist’s sense to the frame conjuring a Rene Magritte like scene, though the movement of the seagulls around him remind us that is more than a snapshot from a dream and finally there is something intriguing and pleasing that is not easily explained in Zezette Lindquist’s My Reality with Louie Tarr where Mr Tarr is seen through the prism of a camera lens but back lit.

As a means to display the works of these young Adelaide photographers, both as exponents of their craft and as interpreters of a human condition, Male: Real/Ideal is an excellent initiative and builds on Kat Coppock’s prodigious recent output as artist and curator. The images are not fashion statements nor mere portraits but rather, true, well-meant collaborations. Any fan of the genre as well as those keen to gaze upon good looking guys should indeed make their way to The Mill this month to step inside these worlds.

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