On aggression, dominance, hierarchy and modern masculinity.
Overhead photograph of two boys swimming.

Overhead view of two young men swimming. They begin to test themselves in mock battle.

Wheel with 54 photographs mounted top its circumference.

The pool challenge is captured in 52 images, mounted on a wheel, creating a mutoscope. 

Images passing through a mutuscope to create a moving image.

The images pass under a sequencing bar, and create an early form of moving images. The mock battle is recreated, ad infinitum. 

The boys attack, grapple and throw one another into the deeper water. The activity is cyclical, embodying unspoken rules of combat, simultaneously creating a relationship that includes both violence and safety. While photographing this pair, I was struck at how the action was both normative and anachronistic. While the contest echoed the historic rites of male maturation, it seemed removed from the experience of many young men today. As pointed out in The Boy Crisis, "Boys' old sense of purpose-being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner-are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a "purpose void," feeling alienated, withdrawn and addicted to immediate gratification." Traits once valued, such as aggression and dominance, are suddenly passe. What models are available now to foster caring, creative and successful young men for the future?

For additional information contact carlpatow@carlpatow.com
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