This suite of photos by Nir Arieli “places men in traditionally feminine spaces and postures, illuminating the human characteristics that have, over time, become decidedly feminine traits.”
For the most part I don’t find the pictures, the settings, or the people in them particularly gendered, but for someone with more traditional views of masculinity and femininity this might be challenging. I like them more every time I look at them.
Arieli, like all good portrait artists, has the ability to bring out the raw humanity of his subjects. Hanno is my favorite. Ariel and Kayode make me especially happy, and are the only two that, to me, contain undeniably coded-as-feminine elements: the sequined shawl and the explosions of cherry blossoms.
Matt, though, is probably the best portrait in the group. That one is hard to look at. Not because there’s any gender stuff going on, but because it’s a confrontationally emotional and nakedly human portrait, and that sort of thing is nearly always difficult to look at directly.
My hope is that someday, portraits like this won’t be perceived as feminine, because softness, openness, and vulnerability won’t be perceived as exclusively feminine traits.