‘Here Among the Flowers’ is an exploration of the Jungian concept of the ‘Anima’, the unconscious, internal feminine side of a man. It aims to offer a more positive portrayal of men and challenge normative ideas of masculinity in the post ‘Me Too’ world.
Full development of the Anima represents the emergence of a man’s emotional openness and sensitivity, and helps create a new conscious paradigm of creativity, empathy and sensitivity towards others.
At a deeper level, the Anima also represents the ideal, unconscious feminine archetype. She is the woman who appears to use in our dreams and in whose presence, we feel the most sublime completeness and security; the most unalloyed sense of love.
As such, the Anima is something to be celebrated and perhaps regarded as an antidote to the concept of 'toxic masculinity'
But men face significant challenges in the development of their Anima. We are conditioned from a young age to supress our vulnerability and hide our sensitivity. We are coerced to compete in a social dominance hierarchy and our value to society is judged by our success in this arena. At each stage in our development, the risks associated with showing our vulnerability weigh increasingly heavily on the male psyche, and our chance to be seen positively by society is eroded.
I ask subjects to remove their shirt and pose among the flowers and foliage. This removal of the shirt is designed to both enhance a strong masculine presentation while at the same time increase the subject’s sense of vulnerability.
Locating this masculine archetype among a more visually feminine environment, and the inclusion of a powerful and protective female figure, offers a pictorial representation of the Anima and asks the viewer to reappraise the way they decode, interpret and judge the masculine.