THE COMPANY OF MEN
The culture of being exposed to, and choosing to look at, nudity is a strange thing. While we in the West are somehow comfortable with our long relationship of female nudes, our relationship to male nudes in more fraught with difficulties. “The representation of eroticism and nudity of the male,” Swiss photographer Alexandre Haefeli (b. 1992) explains, is “often only superficially presented and highly codified.” His series The Company of Men seeks to overturn this known structure, and the result is striking for the variety of visual languages merged into a series made of over 70 images.
The viewer is dragged in a whirlwind of vibrant imagery, the body is objectified for the sake of photography, and therefore revealed for what it is: it appears to be ‘masculine’, though not in the sense we usually associate with this adjective. The poses adopted by the models are those frequently associated with female nudes; they’re cheeky but also sensitive, even introspective. The more iconic representations of the male figure, become suddenly ironic through the photographer’s self-aware and kaleidoscopic point of view.
Haefeli’s pictures range from suggestive to explicit, from colour to black and white, from unmanipulated to highly digitalised. The explicitness of the images and their constant changing in light, texture and shade, gives a sense of seeing the ‘hidden’, teasing the viewer’s curiosity. Haefeli says: “Torn between romanticism and open sexuality, between suggestion and revelation, the spectator is invited to look, to imagine and to desire”.