“The Masculine Masquerade”

MIT List Visual Arts Center

Querying a concept that, not unlike whiteness, once seemed either invisible or simply ubiquitous, “The Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation” sought to reinvigorate contemporary analyses of gender by turning its critical gaze (back) toward the male. Mounting an exhibition under the rubric of the newly resuscitated and influential 1929 Joan Riviere essay on “womanliness,” cocurators Helaine Posner and Andrew Perchuk laudably attempted to extend some of the insights of recent feminist theory in order to interrogate the category of the masculine itself. In this show, masculinity became a kind of playing field or arena of performativity, so that the pieces selected were less about the quiddity of chromosomal difference or the proclivities of the phallus than about the ideologies and rhetoric of maleness—and what teases its constructive and constrictive borders.

The work that

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