Modern Men

A man stands on a lawn between the trees.
Described like this, it sounds like an every day scene requiring little explanation. However, in this photo by Maarten van Schaik you are immediately captured by the posture of this man, and moreover, what the posture expresses about this man. Without being able to name it you are aware that this man is watching.
You don’t know what he is watching, or even how he is watching, you see only the posture of his body unmistakably ‘watching’. Somewhere something is happening which fills him with curiosity. He watches, his arms by his sides, seemingly inactive, a little lost perhaps towards a point in the distance. A man who appears to be lost in the act of watching. But on second glance you notice that this man emits a certain strength.

In this predominately green surrounding this man looks towards something or other with poised self-awareness. Peaceful, calm, without haste and with attention for what is happening. He’s not at the ready to intervene, but doesn’t wait for something to overcome him. In a way he appears to control the situation or at least not to be deterred by it. Regardless of what’s to come, this man stands and watches. It becomes increasingly intriguing what it is he is watching, you would like to know what it is that holds his attention. But this you can’t see as Van Schaik chooses not to share this with us. In his continually developing series ‘Modern Men’ of which this image is part of, we see men standing in environments that overwhelm them. And yet these men have something particular about them, which moves us. They don’t become a part of their environment as something separates them, although we can’t grasp precisely what. But perhaps we don’t need to know, as this image is suggestive in such a way that we can each imagine for ourselves.

Maarten van Schaik