Rosemary & Thyme - 3D virtual exhibition by Katya Ilina

Rosemary & Thyme

Mon, 11/22/2021 to Mon, 02/28/2022

curated by:

Rosemary & Thyme is a photographic project that examines masculinity through body positivity and celebrates the beauty of fluidity in physical form. Explorations of gender representation can often overlook the complicated masculine body image, relying on views of the physically and emotionally strong male. Being ‘in control’ of oneself and life’s circumstances continue to dominate Western ideologies and expectations of men.

Katya Ilina’s practice explores the similarities and connections in human stories to highlight closeness and bonds that forge communities. In this series, portraiture is used to question notions of masculine and feminine as a fluid spectrum versus static binaries. Inspired by European traditions of female nude painting which have shaped visual standards of femininity, these photographs adopt and apply gestures from canonical artworks to contemporary male bodies to question the fabrication of gender roles and identities. Portraits are paired with abstract representations of plant life extending the opportunity for identity negotiation, further complicating ideas of a ‘gendered species’. Blending stereotypically feminine and masculine visual cues highlight the innate changeability of gender performance and the infinite interpretations of how a man can, or should, look.

Each sitter photographed in the series represents different backgrounds and sexual identities providing countless interpretative contexts. In her time spent discussing the project with each model, it became clear to Ilina how significant latent societal expectations and restrictions are on male gender performance: constructed patriarchal societies exnominating masculine ideologies onto a wider population. The portraits in Rosemary & Thyme slowly unravel the ways masculinity is coded, socially constructed, and performed.

This project would not be possible without the trust and vulnerability of Ilina’s models, which she is deeply grateful for. The series title alludes to symbolic meanings attached to herbs in Medieval Europe: rosemary–love, and thyme–courage.

Exhibition curated by Maria Kanellopoulos.

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