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28 Mar 2009

Mankind: Versions & Perversions curated by Edward Lucie-Smith

Frank Gabriel, 'Rise II', Photoprint behind Acrylglass 60cm*60cm, 2009

Mankind: Versions & Perversions curated by Edward Lucie-Smith


Opening: 3rd April at 8 pm

Show runs from 4th April - 15th May 2009

Gallery Hours: Tu-Fr 12-20, Sa 12-18


Eisenacher Str. 6
D-10777 Berlin-Schöneberg

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„Mankind:Versions & Perversions"

Participating Artists:
Gianluca Chiodi (Milan), Tobias A. Feltus (Edinburgh), Robert Flynt (New York), Frank Gabriel (The Hague), Edward Lucie-Smith (London), Roberto Rincon (London), Vladimir Tatarevic (Belgrade), Marc Wayland (London), Jonathan Webb (Paris), Dimitris Yeros (Athens).

This selection of male imagery is an attempt to break through some of the stereotypes that now characterize this particular photographic genre. On the one hand, photographs of the nude or nearnude male are thought of as controversial, because of their homoerotic content, which contravenes social norms in many cultures. On the other hand, they are avant-garde in a fashion that doesn't usually apply to female nudes. The latter tend to annoy entrenched feminists, who see them as proof of the theory of the 'controlling gaze' – proof of the way in which male scopophilia demeans women. The rest of the world simply tends to think of them as kitsch, which is to say as images that may indeed provide erotic stimulation, but which have little or no presence as artistically intended object.

The link between erotic representation and the idea of avant-gardism is of course a long established one. Erotic content tends to guarantee the bold, controversial nature of images that, without this, would seem tamely unexceptional. In other words, eroticism is the easy route to shock, and shock and artistic experimentation are now, at least in the minds of the general public, inseparably joined.

Additionally, where nudes are concerned, naked males have somehow achieved a position of artistic if not social respectability that is now for some reason denied to females.

The present, extremely international anthology of photographic images of the male uses an extremely wide variety of techniques, and shows how far the term 'photography' can now be stretched. It also demonstrates very different approaches, on the part of individual photographers, to the same subject matter. Human bodies have been a central theme for art, and particular for western art, since the time of the Greeks and the Romans. And for long periods, it was the male body that preponderated, while representation of women, clothed or naked, took a very secondary place. This show is intended to interrogate that tradition, and also to revive it. If anything in it can be regarded as truly avant-garde, that is an accident of history. Indeed, if there is anything revolutionary about it, this can be found in the way it questions many clichés about the nature of artistic innovation.

Edward Lucie-Smith (March 2009)