Body Confidence / Gay Semiotics / Das Unheimlich

Some odd ramblings that feed into my life and therefore my practice

“Strange seeing myself totally naked…you’ve done so much for my body confidence” – as a by-product of creating the art that I do it often gives the model a renewed sense of self-worth. It was why I started photographing men in the first place when I took some shots of a friend that got such a great reaction. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to show guys in a flattering light in order to temper the feelings of guilt and shame we carry with ourselves on a day-to-day basis. We are still not totally accepted in society – visibility does not equate to acceptance. And when you are subject to those ill-feelings it drags you down. Combine that with the unrealistic body-image the media expects us to subscribe to and is it any wonder guys get depressed.  But when I get compliments like that on my work it makes me realise how my camera can help to change someone’s life in these little ways.

Gay Semiotics !

Wait! What? Is there such a thing? The trouble with your sexuality being so tied up with your identity is that sometimes you take things for granted.

I came across this old web page which mentions an even older article written in 1977 – it is comically dated now, but interesting as it is part of queer history and therefore queer culture. Growing up in a conservative county there was virtually no frame of reference as a gay man. I guess I am lucky that I did accept my sexuality and not fall into closeted married life that was expect of me. The only examples of homosexuality we saw was Larry Grayson or John Inman (both implied but never actually spoken) – either that or headlines of sexual perversity in newspapers. While in cities on the other side of the world men were building their own culture and families (having been invariably ostracised by blood relatives). And now the internet has enabled us to catalogue and archive this broad language of cultural references. Everything from the handkerchief codes of the S&M scene, through the Wizard Of Oz (are you a friend of Dorothy?) to the high camp drag culture. We had no knowledgeable history of traditions or culture so we had to make our own – or hijack and subvert from the Patriarchy instead. I do worry that with acceptance we may lose creativity though – after all the best art comes from anger and conflict.

Das Unheimlich

When I started this course I was looking into bringing Freud’s notion of The Uncanny into my nudes. I did not come across this exhibition when doing my research but when you read the review I am not sure it would have been much help anyway. The Uncanny as a construct is a fairly easy term to describe – anyone could probably tell you what it means, but transferring it visually would seem to be a far less easy task. It is a feeling of the familiar turned strange and eerie. The consensus of the reviews I have read seem to feel the exhibition was a nice idea, with some very nice imagery but it fell short of invoking that feeling of Das Unheimlich that was promised. I find it odd that there was none of the work of Gregory Crewdson on display as he seems to be the poster-boy for eerie with his Twilight series. Maybe there is hope for me yet if I wanted to return to the thoughts of giving that impression in my work – maybe I gave up the job too soon as being too difficult.

One thought on “Body Confidence / Gay Semiotics / Das Unheimlich

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s