“Real Life” assignment
Many of the photographs at the Real Life exhibit by Melonie Bennet were of Real life images we wouldn’t have normally expected to see. Rosemarie Garland Thompson explains that we are triggered by sights that are unlike us and that take us by surprise. Almost all of the images in the exhibit were of things we might be able to make connections to but caught us off guard at first.
The photograph, The boys experiencing what it would be like to have cleavage,” was the first one in the exhibit to hold my gaze for a longer period of time. One of the biggest reasons was that the picture seemed out of the ordinary and not something we would expect to see four males taking part in. I found that there were many interesting aspects to this photograph, not only was it humorous to stare at but it contained many features of gender confusion. In the center of the picture were four men partaking in a manly game of cards while drinking soda and possibly smoking. (There was an ashtray but no sign of cigarettes). Although there were obvious signs of masculinity, in the background of the wall were flowers and feminine curtains, but most importantly the men were captured trying on women’s bras to put emphasis on their cleavage. I also noticed that all of the men captured were too consumed in themselves to notice that they were being caught in the act, and that they were all very fascinated in how they looked, similar to how a female might act when trying on a new bra. Furthermore, I found it interesting how all of the males in the photo, with the exception of the eldest, were overweight and had the ability to create cleavage more so than someone of an average size. The eldest however, managed to make himself more of a masculine figure when he attempted to make himself feminine by flexing his muscles in an attempt to create cleavage.
Garland Thompson wrote that “a stare can yield its bearer myriad of responses, from curiosity to confusion, attraction, discomfort, even repulsion.” (7). I felt like this quote is very applicable to Bennet’s photograph with the men trying to create cleavage for many reasons. First, this photo attracts a lot of curiosity because one would have to wonder what brought about this occurrence during their game night. Also, this photograph is very confusing because it reveals two different extremes in gender. The scenery around the four males shows them to be very masculine but their actions are showing otherwise. However, as a female looking in on this photograph I definitely feel a little repulsed and discomfort because there are four males imitating in a way of how they would look as a woman, this just seems off and uncomfortable to me as an outsider looking in. I think many of Bennet’s photographs gave off the same uncomfortable feeling as an outsider witnessing something very peculiar and unfamiliar in all of her photographs.