Male Identity Blueprint is an on-going body of work by artist William Lakin, responding to the subject of men and masculinity through multiple lens-based artworks, archival material and text pieces.
The photographic and text sequence titled Five Minutes After Birth responds to the social conditioning men experience in modern Western societies. Referencing anti-social behaviour, sexuality and traditional gender roles, this work presents both a critical and reflective response to men’s pursuit of power and control, and their inclination to engage in competitive and often harmful behaviours.
The project of becoming a man and adhering to social hegemony could be described as a practice of trial and error; a perpetual cycle of aspirational endeavours and inevitable failures. Presenting masculinity as a performance and a culturally reproduced identity, this work highlights the fragility of this cycle and the difficulty men have in describing and accounting for this shared identity.
Referencing the social conditioning both men and women are subject to from birth, the video piece, titled Conditioning, is 3.38 in duration and consists of a man being repeatedly hit in the stomach. As the stomach reddens and after every pause in the assault, the viewer expects the beating to stop, but it continues, until the screen goes black and we are left with just the audio of flesh colliding and pained exhalations.
Blueprints and What Gordon Saw are works in progress.
Far from being a celebration of the plurality of masculinities, these works are a meditation on dated but prevalent masculine archetypes and the disruption and questioning they are increasingly subject to. Using masculinity as an identity to deconstruct, this work poses broader questions about social hierarchies, shared narratives and increasingly polarised discourses around such subjects.