October 25, 2005 - Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) - Masculinities at NBK
October 25, 2005

Masculinities at NBK

Masculinities: an exhibition by the Video Forum
5 November - 18 December 2005

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein  - NBK
Chausseestr. 128-129
10115 Berlin
Phone: 49-30-280 70 20

Opening: Friday, 4th November 2005, 7 pm

Image: Bjorn Melhus, Auto Center Drive, 2003, DVD-video (c,s), 28 min. (video still).

Loulou Cherinet (Ethiopia/Sweden), Lu Chunsheng (China), Cinema Suitcase (The Netherlands), Bjørn Melhus (Germany), Chloe Piene (USA), Mike Sale (Great Britain/Germany), Rommelo Yu (Philippines/Germany), Akram Zaatari (Lebanon)

Curator: Kathrin Becker, NBK

The paradigm of “hegemonic masculinity” (Robert W. Connel), dominant in western society, has been experiencing a growing crisis in recent years. The group that was once regarded as the dominant norm (young to middle-aged, local, non-handicapped, heterosexual men with white skin) now appears to represent a constantly diminishing minority: a development due to the effects of the womens movement and the feminism of recent decades, to changes in the allocation of female roles, to a far-reaching disruption of the labour markets and its effect on the identification factor as the “male provider”, and finally due to the so-called multicultural movement” and the associated re-evaluation of difference as a positive characteristic.

Thanks to feminist and post-feminist theories, the image of women in art history has quite often been critically considered since the 60s, in the exhibition field as well, while the way in which men perceive themselves and are perceived by others has been the subject of far fewer exhibitions precisely because images of male bodies were considered the embodiment of the human ideal per se for so many centuries. It is only in recent years that cultural, gender and queer studies, and a range of pop-theoretical discourse have provided a catalyst triggering an increase in exhibition projects focusing on masculinity.

The exhibition Masculinities in the NBK like most of its precursors presupposes a heterogeneous concept of masculinity. But one special feature is that it brings the complex of masculinities and migration into play. This is based on the assessment that sections of public opinion – in connection with 9/11 and the events in Madrid and London have generated specific ways of viewing male migrants, above all those from the Middle and Far East and certain parts of the African continent. As a consequence, such men are often judged to be backward, fundamentalist, chauvinist and dangerous as a mere consequence of their affiliation with the Islamic faith.

But Masculinities does not examine the aspect of masculinities and migration from a dubious, separatist and thus exclusive standpoint. Far more, it considers the problem in a kind of social snapshot – as one phenomenon within the interplay of diverse concepts of masculinity and their context, in conjunction with themes such as male socialisation, youth cultures and mediatisation.

Video works by seven international artists and one group of artists investigate divergent perspectives on masculinity; symptoms pointing to the present state of society and its gender roles over and above ethnic and religious affiliations.

Parallel to the exhibition, Revolver-Verlag is publishing a bilingual catalogue (German/English), ed. by Kathrin Becker/NBK, including essays by Ernst van Alphen, Kathrin Becker and Renate Berger, short texts about the artists, and numerous illustrations.

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.)
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