Gerard Byrne: Like a Man
Reckitt, Helena. 2013. Gerard Byrne: Like a Man. In: Kirsty Ogg, ed. Gerard Byrne: A State of Neutral Pleasure. London and Stockholm: The Whitechapel Gallery, pp. 36-51. ISBN 978-0-85488-212-0 [Book Section]
Abstract or Description
Accompanying Gerard Byrne’s 2013 solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, ‘Like a Man’ highlights the staging of gender in general, and masculinity in particular, an aspect of the artist's work that has received little critical attention. The essay foregrounds the performance of masculinity in three video installations depicting male artists and/or intellectuals: A man and a woman make love, 2012, Homme à Femmes (Michel Debrane), 2004, and A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, 2010. These works reverse Laura Mulvey’s articulation of man as holder of the gaze and woman as its object, instead putting men on show as they perform their public personae. The essay shows how, by returning to moments when new artistic and social positions are being formed, Byrne aims to counter historiographic stasis, highlighting the processes of revision and performance by which histories are made. By suggesting that the sexual politics of modernist movements deserve further thought, the essay argues, Byrne opens up the past to deeper considerations of gendered subjects and their enactment.