For a change this reviewer asked me about the project & my intent before even looking at the shots. I explained the subjects contacted me to request very personal pictures they could use in order to find some fun on the internet to scratch an itch.
They then posed a couple of questions which at the time I considered to be rather inappropriate – namely did I have any of these personal images that I capture for these men? And also whether I requested these subjects aroused themselves in order to be photographed? I found these extremely personal questions to be asked in such a ‘polite’ setting as a portfolio review – yet afterwards I realised these could very well be the questions that readers of my work would also ponder upon. I have been doing personal shoots for men for far too long to be shocked by the naked male whether in a flaccid or erect state. To me it is perfectly natural – it is partially what that part of the anatomy is designed to do. And these men have such few potential outlets for this side of their desires that it is perfectly understandable if they become excited. I also have an interest in combating ithyphallophobia (fear of the erect penis) and phallophobia in general. There is one shot within the series so far which does concern me as it is fairly subtle yet the model is in a state of arousal & I am still pondering if I can include it within the body of work without it degrading the message I am trying to put across.
Also in discussion with the reviewer – they were fascinated to imagine such things went on in the quiet backwater that is Cornwall. And another fascinating question was their interest in the class of the subjects; which after some thought I realised were a 50/50 split between working and middle class.
Regarding the images I have captured so far they questioned whether I was more interested in form or message as the images seemed to be too aestheticized and possibly the message was getting lost – is there the possibility for me to imply the story through the images without the need to rely upon text to guide the reader (interesting viewpoint as it’s something I have often argued myself – we work in a form of visual communication and if this is not coming across in the images then we have failed). I was advised to consider 14thC Renaissance Art in particular gestures and mannerisms and if there was a chance to incorporate this into the images to negate the need for explanatory text – thinking of tightened muscle, hairs stood on end or perspiration to hint at something more intense.
With regards to eventual display the art of Gilbert & George was mentioned in the way they subvert religious iconography with scatological and deliberately obscene imagery in order to question the power of religion and its traditional dislike of certain minorities. It was also suggested the possibility of displaying prints on Victorian folding screens – playing with concealing and revealing especially if they were folded close in order for us to have to peer in to see the images; and also their physical use of separating spaces…psychologically screening one space (lifestyle) from another.