The Kinsey Institute’s newest art show, Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze (see video trailer here), examines the concept of the “male gaze,” focusing on artworks which subvert and reverse this concept by examining masculinity through the female gaze. The show is an exhibit of the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA), which is currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary.
“Gaze” is a psychoanalytical term used to describe the relationship between the viewer, and the subject of the viewer’s attention, or gaze.
In feminist theory, the “male gaze” refers to when females are the passive subjects of art, film, and other popular media, making the audience view the content though through the eyes of a heterosexual man. When viewers are looking through the male gaze, women are the passive subjects of an active gaze: they are the recipients of the viewing process. The “male gaze” also reflects the asymmetry in the balance of masculine and feminine forms of power in society, as it recalls themes of voyeurism and objectification.
Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze plays with this concept by presenting art through a “female gaze,” presenting images of males and masculinity through an aggressively sexual feminine lens. By capturing images of traditional masculinity through a variety of lenses (funny, sexy, genderqueer, feminist, etc.), Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze turns classic themes of beauty on their head, and draws meaningful questions from viewers both male and female.