Ben McNutt wrestles with boys.

Homoeroticism is embedded in physical culture. Renditions of this embedment have appeared in every art form throughout history. Greco-roman marble sculptures present us with a physically perfected male form. Classicist paintings elongate and exaggerate the male physique. This inherent eroticism in physical culture is as present in contemporary discourse as it has been centuries before it. I find these displays of homoeroticism a paradox. They are representative of a heteronormative masculine ideal yet they are quintessentially homoerotic in my eyes. This homoeroticism is on display in museums, educational institutions, public venues, etc. This content is often disregarded as a platform for sexuality. I choose to use wrestling as a contemporary example to display alongside these works. Wrestling is homoerotic. Positions are physical. Players pin, grab, and wrap their bodies around another in order to win. The male physique is shown off by one-piece, tight-fitting spandex and nylon singlets. Body types are often in peak physical condition. Wrestlers hold strong admiration and veneration alongside each other. Wrestling has a fundamental relationship with arts and culture spanning for thousands of years. When approaching this content I see the eroticism that is on display. Framing these pieces in a specific way allows the erotic content already present within the content to then be explicitly drawn out. My work allows for sexuality throughout history to be questioned and to facilitate contemporary conversations in regards to it.

I was immediately drawn by Ben McNutt‘s work, at first by its delightful visual qualities. McNutt joins portraits, simple tableux, and recontextualized images  (of sculptures and found images), to explore the latent homoeroticism even in things that might be considered hyper masculine. There is a sense of obsession to McNutt’s images: The boys are drenched in sweat, their eyes closed. They seem to be caught in a moment of pleasure. The sculptures, the sketches and other found images compulsively focus on repeated gestures or body parts. All the images in McNutt’s project tug at each other, an ongoing push and pull between McNutt’s lustful gaze and his rational mind.

What ultimately holds my continued interest in Mcnutt’s work is not the simple matter that his images are artfully produced, but also how he manages to include  a degree of sincere personal narrative into these highly constructed images. Through his Tumblr, McNutt is also very open about his process, which essentially adds to the value to the finalized images – since as much of the work goes into the amount of research that McNutt involves himself in.

You can also find McNutt on Tumblr.

 

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