a project by
by Ina Farjam
What does ’masculinity‘ look like?

Since gender is often still wrongly linked to sex, the assumption is that men need to be ‘masculine’ and women need to be ‘feminine’. Does this mean that men must only be ‘masculine’ and women always ‘feminine’? And what about people who do not conform to these concepts all together? Is it possible that our binary idea of gender is limiting not only to the minority but to most people in our society?
To find answers to these questions, photographer and artist Aline Pape started her project Modern Gender, Masculinities in 2020. She searches for men and people assigned masculine at birth (amab) in different cities around Germany via online platforms to work with them. She offers participants traditionally ‘feminine’ attributes such as clothes, jewelry, and nail polish, thereby opening up a free space in which people are allowed to experiment with their ‘feminine’ side in terms of their appearance. With this process she attempts to change the ‘gender expression’ of men to see how their ‘gender performance’ and therefore their ‘habitus’ transformed. Some wear such clothing for the first time.

It became an experiment to see how far photography
can influence social processes by questioning the problematic and normalised representations of ‘masculinity’ while highlighting alternatives outside of the binary.

In late 2022 the project was released as a photo book box in collaboration with GRAVUR Verlag, in a limited edition of 100 handmade books.
In 2023, the work was showcased in a solo exhibition in Paris in May and toured through Berlin, Hamburg, and Cologne during June. In July, the book was selected for the shortlist of the Förderpreis für junge Buchgestaltung and was exhibited in Up And Coming at einBuch.haus in Berlin. From August to September, the project was part of the Photography Festival Allianzen of the StädteRegion Aachen at the Raststätte, as well as in a group exhibition titled Nouvelles Masculinités at Galerie M in Paris.
Förderpreis für junge Buchgestaltung 2023



with publisher

Studio Hausen


Galerie M

What is "masculinity" and what is "femininity" for you?

E “Both masculinity and femininity are just guided roles by the society, to create some differences that are not that real. Nowadays it doesn’t make too much sense, when we speak about gender. The spectre has to be a way more open. To be forced to follow the classical path can create those social differences and problems that
we try to avoid.”

S “For me, masculinity is not so easy to grasp. They are imagined requirements and structures imposed by society. But they are real because we live them. For me, masculinity is a category based on hierarchy. It demands many contextual behaviors. It is based on the devaluation of everything ‘unmanly’ and ‘other.’ If I conform to the requirements and structures, it implies my own upgrading. A normative behavior promises me a certain position in the world and at the same time shapes my view of things. But this rigid positioning denies me an opening for things that do not correspond to the socionormative behavior patterns. It can deny me a view of part of my ‘feminine’ being. The male gaze is often a judgmental and an egocentered gaze.”

"The subtle structure of a misogynist society becomes noticeable once normativity is challenged. Aline Pape did this by giving people who identify as men a safe space to experiment with their ‘feminine’ side." 
Janina Papenheim, Co-developer of the content concept and Gender & Diversity Student at Rhein-Waal University, Kleve
“I am convinced that photography can be an important part of the new feminist movements. It creates the opportunity to convey an idea where words are not necessary. Since its conception, photography has had a great influence on our collective acceptance of hetteronormativity. Photography, then, can be a powerful tool in the pursuit of an equal society that does not reduce people to their bodies and appearances. I believe that by challenging dominant masculinity, issues become visible that have disappeared into invisible norms. The current feminism movements deal with issues regarding equality which do not only concern women but everyone in society. My work is my personal contribution to these movements.”
— Aline Pape
Aline was born in 1997 in NRW, Germany. Her work focuses on photography and design concepts. As a queer communicationdesigner, she has been exploring how photography can contribute to creating space for self-determination and redefinition of gender for several years. Her passion lies in political and sociological discourses and their reflection in her artistic work. She aims to challenge, expand, and diversify our collective understanding of gender roles through her art.
In our concept publishing house, we create book projects that stand out. For this, we consider the entire process - layout, design, binding - and find creative solutions to produce books in small editions with a high artistic standard. We always work on an equal footing with the authors and artists. Our books reflect our passion for the medium of books and print. In our complementary GRAVUR Store, we offer carefully selected items from design to print.
At the beginning of 2021, Aline came to our studio with the dummy of her work Modern Gender and asked if we would like to publish it together. We were thrilled by the idea and got straight to work making 100 copies by hand with great attention to detail. Creating this publication brought us a lot of joy, we are very excited to bring this arts and crafts work to the people.