|Our Vision Statement:
Manly Matters seeks to move the focus of pictorial analysis to representations of maleness—both spectacular and mundane—as it proliferates in South Asian popular visual practice, especially in printed images produced for the mass market. Read more...
We are delighted to introduce the finalists and the projects selected for Tasveer Ghar’s newest venture. You can read more about the project as a whole on the right. Our Fellows’ image essays will be posted over the course of the next two years. We also expect over the course of the next couple years to announce several image galleries as well as the start of a visual archive on images of masculinity in South Asian visual culture. We thank you for your continued interest in Tasveer Ghar.
Avash Bhandari and Dannah Dennis
Remembering and Remaking the Founder: A Visual History of Images of Prithvi Narayan Shah
In this project, we aim at tracing the historical evolution of the iconography of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king from Gorkha who founded the modern state of Nepal in 1768. We show how among the various images of Shah drawn in different styles in different historical periods, a painting by Amar Chitrakar came to acquire hegemonic status as the most recognized and reprinted image of the king after the 1960s, becoming a trope for Nepali national unity under the tutelage of the Shah monarch. We also demonstrate how this image is deployed for a variety of divergent political ends in Nepal’s current moment of constitutional crisis.
Precarious Lives: Shifting Representations of Muslim Masculinities
Since the 1990s, we have been increasingly surrounded by images/ photographs of Muslim vulnerability—criminalized, abject, emasculated, terrified. The Muslim invader, the grand adversary of earlier cultural nationalist narratives is replaced by a more ordinary Muslim male—living with the threat of violence as the ‘non-belonger,’ the potential terrorist or the love jihadi. I explore a range of sources including illustrative practices of popular narratives such as the Amar Chitra Katha and contemporary photographic conventions/practices from journalistic sources in order to engage with the shifting address and contexts of contemporary Muslim images in India.
Politics of Posture and Sartorial Sagacity: A Critique of Swami Vivekananda’s Photographs
This paper will scrutinize Vivekananda’s sartorial adeptness, postural mimesis and skillful utilization of photography to amplify his saintly persona. An inquiry will be initiated to discover the dynamics of photography involved in the making of an icon or saint.
‘The Next King of Action:' The Visual Construction of Indian Masculinity in Stardust
This project studies the changing representations of Indian masculinity as depicted in the film magazine Stardust. Over the past three decades, Indian male bodies have changed drastically, adopting the overtly muscular, hairless, and paler ideal typically seen in Western countries. The behavioral characteristics of Western masculinities have translated as well—Indian men now take on a consumerist role and must compete with one another for success. While this indicates a class of Indian women with purchasing power, as they are able to buy these sexualized images, the effects of this ideal have not been thoroughly studied.
The ‘Supreme’ Guru: Politics of Representation in Iconographies of Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan.
This project attempts to critically study the aesthetics and politics of representations of Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, a contemporary spiritual guru, the head of Dera Sacha Sauda, located at Sirsa on the Punjab-Haryana border. The essay will focus on various sartorial experimentations that form the self-image of Dera guru which connects with the desire to expand; to include and modify styles of attires from different cultural traditions without limiting at a particular iconographic form. I attempt to theorise as well the politics and aesthetics of Dera guru’s various avatars through looking at printed material such as studio photographs, DVDs, magazines, film posters and other forms of visual dissemination.
‘Health and Strength’? Picturing the Physical Culture Consumer in Colonial Western India
This essay researches and documents representations of male bodies in vernacular sports magazines in early twentieth century western India. It will comment on the popularization of visual consumption, even as the male body was exhibited in a range of newer ways, and photographs of individual athletes emerged as commodities in and of themselves. This history of male physique photography, and that of the circulation of the images of ‘beautiful and powerful’ sporting bodies, it is suggested, will help develop a renewed understanding of the links between masculinity and muscularity in popular culture.
Lionel Wendt’s Erotic Nationalism
This project examines Lionel Wendt's photographic corpus and its relationship to the nascent nationalism of its context in 1930s-40s Sri Lanka. I discuss Wendt's representation of his subjects, filtered through differences of wealth, race, education, and social context, and its relationship to the exotic, the erotic, and the institutions of the state.
Runa Chakraborty and Sarunas Paunksnis
Masculine Anxiety in the Films of Anurag Kashyap
The essay interrogates the visual representations of urban male anxiety in the context of post-liberalization India by analyzing three films by Anurag Kashyap: No Smoking (2007), Ugly (2013), and Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016). It focuses on the tension in the existing gender relations and attempts to reappraise question of women’s empowerment vis-à-vis the emerging notion of "toxic masculinity".
Shabnam Naher and Mossabbar Hossain
Male Beautification and the Beauty Salon: Perceptions of Masculinity among Men in Dhaka, Bangladesh
This research project will explore the changing ideologies about male beautification and the construction of masculinity against the dominant gender ideology. We choose Mirpur region, Dhaka metropolitan city as our field site. We will use observation and visual content analysis method for data collection, observe and conduct interviews with both salon staff and customers, and analyze available style catalog, media advertisement and other achievable visual documents from beauty salons.
Men of the Indian Constitution: Idolised Bodies, Idealised Bodies
This visual essay will relate two sets of images by investigating the tropes of nationalist masculinity. The first set consists of the idealised male bodies of gods, super humans and humans illustrated in the Indian Constitution. The second set includes idolised depictions of Ambedkar, Nehru, Azad & Patel (members of the assembly that authored the Indian Constitution) in popular visual culture.
Caste Assertion and the Rise of Tamil Warriors: The Competitive Politics of Visibility and Masculinity in 21st Century Tamil Nadu
This essay is an exploration of new public depictions of fallen heroes that demonstrate and energize the formation of politically-defined caste conglomerations (often called "mega-castes"). Arising over the course of the past thirty to forty years, due in part to the unprecedented technologies of communication that bring formerly distant communities together, the narratives surrounding such heroes reflect dreams of sovereignty and power that are expressed in the idiom of hyper-masculine excess drawn from the annals of Dravidianist ethnonationalism. Intensifying in their recursive competition, caste conglomerations sometimes instantiate the assertions otherwise made by their caste heroes in moments of violent inter-caste conflict on the ground.
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