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In the Closet

Born into a secular, liberal Turkish family and raised in Istanbul, where the East and the West meet, Sarp Kerem Yavuz's experience of traditional codes of masculinity has always been skewed. Growing up in Turkey, he was often told that I needed to “be a man,” which implied a wide spectrum of responsibilities ranging from sporting a beard to having a wife and kids. Becoming a man meant drinking raki, an alcoholic beverage made from anise, and drinking it well; it meant letting the women clear the table; it meant watching soccer, swearing occasionally; it meant sounding assertive, and not letting his voice rise when he got excited.By reconstructing masculinity, particularly the kind of Americana masculinity that he grew up watching on TV, he sought to dismantle it, on a quest to figure out how to be a man. Starting in the varsity locker room, the mecca of male camaraderie, he began taking large format photographs of constructed fantasies, using his gaze and presence to render brotherhood homoerotic. The act of re-creating the imagery he grew up with was cathartic, and in time it would demystify masculinity. He constructed the fantasy, thus ensuring that it is, after all, fantasy, and needs not hang over anyone’s head.The title of the body of work functions as a semi-private joke that presents these men as potentially homosexual because of their participation and depiction in the photographs.

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