Title

Sally Mann and Proud Flesh: The Death and Rebirth of Masculinity Through the Photographic Process

Lead Author Major

Studio Art

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Merrill Schleier

Faculty Mentor Department

Visual Arts

Abstract/Artist Statement

In addition to the challenges to physical strength, chronic disease challenges hegemonic masculinity, and forces male patients to redefine their legitimacy as economic providers and social contributors to American society. Sally Mann’s photographic series Proud Flesh (2003-2009) ventures into new territory by examining the challenges of chronic disease on masculine identity through the female gaze. Mann uses her chronically ill husband as the subject of her photographs in order to explore the changing duties of the autonomous husband, father, and provider. An examination of Mann’s work establishes a progression in masculine identity, using the photographic process as a tool of documentation and remembrance as her husband’s body and gender identity change during the progression of his illness. Hephaestus, Proud Flesh (2008) exemplifies a powerful change of gender identity of the male nude through visual signifiers such as texture, value, space, and line. Mann sacrifices and exposes her husband’s physical body in order to rebuild his gender identity through the act of art making, thus providing rebirth to the dying patriarch. Previously in the history of art, the physical perfection of the body served as a required quality for the ideal man, which is now challenged by Mann’s work. Although she references classical paintings and also romanticize chronic illness and death, Mann’s record of the failing male body challenges hegemonic notions of masculinity and replaces it with equal value on physical weakness. She establishes new ideas for masculine identity by immortalizing her husband as art.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

20-4-2013 1:20 PM

End Date

20-4-2013 1:35 PM

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Apr 20th, 1:20 PM Apr 20th, 1:35 PM

Sally Mann and Proud Flesh: The Death and Rebirth of Masculinity Through the Photographic Process

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

In addition to the challenges to physical strength, chronic disease challenges hegemonic masculinity, and forces male patients to redefine their legitimacy as economic providers and social contributors to American society. Sally Mann’s photographic series Proud Flesh (2003-2009) ventures into new territory by examining the challenges of chronic disease on masculine identity through the female gaze. Mann uses her chronically ill husband as the subject of her photographs in order to explore the changing duties of the autonomous husband, father, and provider. An examination of Mann’s work establishes a progression in masculine identity, using the photographic process as a tool of documentation and remembrance as her husband’s body and gender identity change during the progression of his illness. Hephaestus, Proud Flesh (2008) exemplifies a powerful change of gender identity of the male nude through visual signifiers such as texture, value, space, and line. Mann sacrifices and exposes her husband’s physical body in order to rebuild his gender identity through the act of art making, thus providing rebirth to the dying patriarch. Previously in the history of art, the physical perfection of the body served as a required quality for the ideal man, which is now challenged by Mann’s work. Although she references classical paintings and also romanticize chronic illness and death, Mann’s record of the failing male body challenges hegemonic notions of masculinity and replaces it with equal value on physical weakness. She establishes new ideas for masculine identity by immortalizing her husband as art.