Most nudes we see are female, and when a male body is portrayed, it is still usually done by a male photographer. Clearly, when it comes to nude photography, the male gaze is dominant. Even though a woman’s right to visual pleasure is more and more recognised, we’re still some way from a position of equality.
Laura Stevens (b. 1977, United Kingdom) responded to this reality by inviting more than 50 men – most of them strangers to her – to her Paris apartment in order to photograph them. By doing this, she reversed classic roles and became the dominant party.In the very basic setting of Stevens’ bedroom, the models fully expose their naked bodies, making themselves vulnerable to her camera. Whereas softness and passivity are qualities usually associated with women, such qualifications are now attributed to these anonymous male figures. They are far from the strong, macho clichés you’d expect. The fact that they were being objectified in this manner must have demanded a certain amount of courage – something we seem to forget when seeing women portrayed in the nude.