Adi Nes on “Challenging Stereotypical Masculine Imagery”

By Tom Seymour
From his series "Soldiers," and comprising 22 staged photographs, the series consciously subverts the stereotype of the masculine Israeli man invoked in his mother’s songs.
Growing up in the febrile atmosphere of manliness following Six-Day War, the Israeli photographer never felt he quite fitted in. Until he joined the IDF, embraced his sexuality and went to art college. This article was originally published in issue #7892 of British Journal of Photography. As a free gift to our community during the coronavirus lockdown, we are offering it as a free digital edition here. When he was a child, Adi Nes’ mother would sing songs that she had composed just for him. He remembers thinking how markedly idealised and heroic these songs were, evoking the early settlers who had fought to found Israel – strong, determined, powerful men. “I saw myself as a queer, weak, Mizrahi boy from the periphery, different from everyone else.” [More]
Untitled, 1999. All images from the series, Soldiers. All Images © Adi Nes.
Perhaps his best-known image (above), taken in 1999 – and sold at a Sotheby’s auction eight years later for $264,000 – shows young soldiers seated at a long plastic table at an army base.