“The Vulnerability of Man” Artist Statement

Nicole Lubarski

The lingering fear one may have of exposing themselves to others emotionally, or the pessimistic way we regard feelings is a societal issue, not a biological one. Through teachings of gender norms, roles, and inequalities, we have been taught that it is not okay for men to be emotional; that it is a weakness. Rather, it is something that is a natural human experience; it is a strength. My name is Nicole Lubarski and I’m a senior at Valparaiso University. We have all heard the saying, “You’re acting like a girl”. This is usually regarding the way someone is expressing how they feel. While I am an emotional person and am not afraid to indicate how I’m feeling, I have found this to be a negative in the eyes of many. While it’s more accepted for me to express my feelings as a female, it is more undesirable for my male counterparts. My photography series, The Vulnerability of Man, discusses male vulnerability and the negative stigma and ideologies that surround it. I hope to instill upon you the notion that being vulnerable is a part of our biological makeup; it is not a choice. It is the basis of what it means to be a human. With an attempt to withdraw from this, in essence, we evade our human nature. I am using these photographs as a platform of my own to critique this belief just like my inspiration, photographer Les Krims, who critiqued modern ideologies of sex, race, and modern culture through his staged photography. While Krims aimed to show the dehumanization of those in his photographs, I contrast this portrayal and want to dignify my model and my message. I stylistically chose the photographs to be in black and white in order to hinder the viewer from being distracted by color, and rather be drawn to the stark contrasts of the pieces. Through this stylistic choice, it helps to highlight every imperfection and exemplify humanity. My model is nude as I aim to show the simplest form of human vulnerability. Being naked is the most physically vulnerable that anyone can be. It exposes every flaw and potential insecurity that one may have, in which we use clothes to hide. It is also an importance for my model to be nude as men are rarely portrayed in a nude, domestic way, like females have been depicted throughout history. There is a lack of representation of the natural male body and an unequal view of the beauty and importance of male nudity. While my pieces are very serious conceptually, I invite discussion and commentary about the strengths of vulnerability. When looking at my pieces, ask yourself, “What can I do to proactively be more accepting to the vulnerability of myself and those around me?”