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They Will Be Them

Elizabeth Libert | United States

Hunt I

Our cultural response to males behaving badly is “boys will be boys”. These photographs observe my sons as they play outdoors as I witness my sons’ affection for physical play with undertones of power and violence. I’m also struck by their sensitivity, sensuality, and by their fascination with nature. As a mother, I struggle with this behavioral dichotomy, conflicted by both concern over and adoration of their wild spirit. I frequently find myself wondering about human nature versus nurture.

These images result, I believe, in a romanticized ode to the beauty inherent in the complexity of their being.

" 'Maybe there is a beast....maybe it's only us.' "

-William Golding, Lord of the Flies (1954)

 

“Wild thing, you make my heart sing”

-The Troogs (1966)

 

Our cultural response to males behaving badly is “boys will be boys”. I often witness my sons’ affection for aggressive play with undertones of power and violence. I’m also struck by their sensitivity, sensuality, and by their fascination with nature. As a mother, I struggle with this behavioral dichotomy, conflicted by both concern over and adoration of their wild spirit. I frequently find myself pondering essential parental questions regarding nature versus nurture.

This collection of images is an observation of my sons as they play outdoors in an Eden-like setting. I explore their behavior aware that my sons – as two boys in one household – are emerging into a contemporary society where the staid gender norms are being challenged and certain male behaviors that we previously overlooked are now being exposed and labeled as unacceptable. I present them as individuals while looking at how their behaviors are unencumbered by awareness of the shift that is occurring around them. This visual journey documents their lives and explores the ideas of male stereotypes while providing a romantic view of the beauty inherent in the complexity of their nature, their innocence and their subsequent emergence through childhood.

www.elizabethclarklibert.com

eclibert@gmail.com

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