Men Untitled by Carolyn Drake is a new series of photographs exploring her relationship to myths of masculinity in American culture.
Following Knit Club (2012–2020), a subversive work about a community of women in rural Mississippi, Drake shifts her gaze in Men Untitled. In contrast to her previous work, her subjects are uprooted from their geographies. Erasing nearly all signs of place, Drake invites the viewer to look directly at the male bodies in front of her camera.
The subjects in Men Untitled appear nude or half-dressed, frozen in awkward poses, torsos twisted and bent, backward facing, wearing furniture, and even hung upside down. But they also appear to be at ease with — possibly even acting in collusion with — the artist.
Still-lives punctuate the portraits: an anatomical model of male genitalia perches on a velvet chair, a charred board of nails stands erect, and a formidable snake wraps itself around an empty window frame.
Playful on its surface, the work’s underlying levity is brought to the fore in Drake’s epilogue, which recounts a sequence of personal experiences that motivated the work.