STILL FIGURING OUT What it Means to be a Man
Initiated in 2013, Still Figuring Out What it Means to be a Man explores the experiences of six middle-class, metropolitan South African men in their twenties and thirties, and how such men see themselves today. Taking an empathetic view of individual men, but a critical one of patriarchy, Still Figuring Out considers various aspects of manhood and masculinity in contemporary South Africa. Rather than a piece of research or comprehensive analysis of masculinity, this project is an ongoing artistic exploration which seeks both to explore and deconstruct.
From a range of cultural and racial backgrounds, these young men are of the country’s metropolitan elite, sharing broadly middle-class upbringings and familiarity with the urban professional world of South Africa - a group that, more than any other, society seeks to please. From creative and social entrepreneurs to film-makers to conflict journalists-turned-eco-farmers, these men reflect on their masculinities, contemplating various influences on their sense of manhood, and what they learned about becoming men from those who raised them. They explore issues such as love, sexuality and sexual conditioning, impacts of apartheid and colonialism, success, fatherhood, spirituality, and visions of ideal masculinities for a future South Africa. Their stories also express – both explicitly and implicitly – some of the pressures and costs exerted on men by mainstream masculinities and patriarchy, demonstrating the need for the transformation of patriarchy for men’s benefit, as well as women's and all gender identities. Through visual and audio snapshots of their lives, this multimedia project celebrates and promotes the positive, courageous, and impressive qualities of the individual men involved; including their vulnerabilities. Many of these attributes fall outside of the traits usually associated with manhood and masculinity. The exhibition includes documentary-style photographic images of the men in contexts in which they chose to represent themselves, audio narratives, sounds and objects that are precious to the men, and audience interactivity. (The audio narratives are not publicly accessible online as they contain personal stories).
Still Figuring Out was exhibited at the Iziko Slave Lodge, Cape Town, from 4 April - 2 September 2018. It was hosted by international finance brand Mazars in Johannesburg between August - December 2019, where it was also part of the Egoli Art Fair on 3 October (co-hosted by Investec), and will be exhibited elsewhere in South Africa (details coming soon). It is an ongoing project.