Ezra H. Murray for Art-Sheep
Throughout the world, sexual and violent crimes are most frequently committed by men. There is an abundance of several cases of gendered aggressiveness, although the mental connection of masculinity and violence just adds to the problem. This hazardous association standardizes violence, when there are so many men that do not fit in this stereotyped image. The men who are fathers, teachers, friends, husbands to so many of us and are a true inspiration for all.
South Africa-based photographer Jodi Bieber is in battle with the linkage of masculinity and violence for three years now, by tracking down and photographing men who are anything but an example of this dark stereotype. The outcome of Bieber’s efforts is a photographic project titled “Quiet”, and it gives an examination of masculinity that abolishes any sense of macho or beastly drive. What remains is the gentle susceptibility present within every human being, despite gender.
The photographer said she asked friends, colleagues and acquaintances to introduce her to men they might have known. “The men collaborated with me in creating a quiet portrait of themselves. They came from all walks of life. I asked each man to wear only his underwear, to strip him of his protection, ‘his uniform.’ I photographed him in his safe space.”
Bieber spends between one to three hours with her subjects, allowing them to take their invisible armour off along with their clothes. The images that come out of this process have a sense of comfort and peace, and they portray a side of masculinity not often reproduced in the prevailing culture. “This work should open up the space for men and boys to see themselves in other ways other than the traditional performative representations we are used to seeing,” the photographer said. “If we consistently see men as the aggressors then that remains the cultural norm.”