Picturing Men Relationships Everyday Photography
Writing in an erudite, scholarly manner Professor John Ibson has managed to present a substantive survey of the evolution of male gender perception in his PICTURING MEN: A Century of Male Relationships in Everyday American Photography. And for all its heavily researched scholarship, Ibson also has created a very tender elegy about the history of male intimacy, tracing the genuinely warm comraderie as depicted in extant studio and personal photographs rom the mid 19th Century to the gradual emergence of homophobia after World War II.
This is a book that probably is best read twice: the first 'read' should be a slow thumbing through the pages of wonderfully tender and humorous photographs of men in pairs, in poses, in groups of pageant/pantomime, in dorm rooms, barracks, and in nature. The second read should be on of thoughtful attention paid to the written word, an experience which is never cloyingly sentimental, yet ever mindful of the sad fact that our society has created a ban on men expressing tenderness to other men. He wisely shows the tendency to use rough-housing and elaborate greeting techniques to convey the feelings now considered not only 'inappropriate' but worse - as in the 'Don't ask, don't tell' stance of the military. In the most sensitive chapter of this gentile book Ibson studies life in the military from the Civil War through World War II, pointing out both sides of the argument that war and its accompanying terror encourages men to bond, at least psychologically if not sexually. And in keeping with the tenor of the title "in Everyday American Photography" he references the manner in which Life Magazine - that pre-internet, pre-mass media resource which shouldered the burden of documenting for Americans how things were - shows the intensity of male relationships during WW II and its waning in the 1950s.
Ibson is careful to remind us that his picture research comes from his own collection of photographs gathered from swap meets, antique stores, and auctions and that his own feelings are supported by such disparate sources as songs (especially "My Buddy"), memoirs of soldiers, studies of wars by such men as Stephen Ambrose, John Horne Burns, Norman Mailer, and Allen Drury, and movies. In other words, this book stands solidly as a statement about the sad loss of man's ability to accept intimacy, especially when it comes to his fellowman. A beautifully written, highly readable, very valuable book and treatise.Get your Picturing Men Relationships Everyday Photography Now!