My stay at Penryn Campus coincidenced with the Chris Northey private view of the exhibition which is the culmination of his FMP. The "Concupiscence" body of work is dedicated to the subject of the male bisexuality.
"My project, Concupiscence - When I was married I used to watch men, aims to destigmatise the nude male in a visual objectification of bisexual masculinity. Text and image are employed to provoke disscussion in a body of work that questions censorship and modern attitiudes to naked flesh and the perception of sexuality." Chris Northey, The RPS Journal, Vol 158, July 2018
I must admit that I felt sort of uncomfortable for the first couple of minutes after entering the gallery. I was confronted with the huge amount of male nudity and also the discrete gaze of male couples and I thought I would rather like to be invisible. Was that the symptom of what Chris is fighting for - the social uneasiness with the subject of older male sexuality? Yes and no.
I thought, while being there, of the female equivalent of what Chris has done - the older women nude in context of bisexuality. Would that be more comfortable to consume for myself? I don't think so. I am not saying that I have a problem with this project, I really like the images (perhaps not all but a lot of them) and admire Chris determination and courage to create this body of work. I really agree that human body, no matter how old and ordinary, is interesting and beautiful and there is nothing really extreme any more about showing this as a subject of the photograph but still, there was something on the wall which made me feel a bit distracted and uncomfortable.
I thought about it quite a lot and I think it was due to the physicality being the dominat aspect of this project. The male body parts which in large amounts were represented by the phallus in various configurations including the pre and post-erection state took over the emotions, intimacy, fear, embarrassment, etc. of the males who were the subject of this project. That was apparently Chris's goal, to bombard the viewer with pieces of body which are in the end just pieces of flesh we all consist of so it should not be a big deal to look at it. But it is not just about the older males body and sex, is it? It is about being different than majority and not being accepted. About the beauty of being together despite the intolerant society, the emotional struggle. I haven't seen that on the photographs.