An exhibition of photographs by Amy Elkins and Jona Frank at De Soto Gallery juxtaposes images of boy dancers and boxers, as the show’s title suggests, “In Position.” The show examines these small slices of life within specialized sports, as both photographers seek to pinpoint the disciplines’ particular physicality and traditions among young men. Elkins’s photographs come from her Danseur project, in which she documents Danish dancers studying with the top academies, the Royal Danish Ballet and Danse Hallerne. Frank has chosen young boxers as the subject for The Modern Kids, taken at gyms in Northern England.
Ballet represents a high-class entertainment typically embodied by women, while boxing is typically seen as a more masculine, lower class pursuit– but the images, together, aim to present a unified image of young masculinity among those whose bodies define their pursuit, or their art. Both sets of photographs offer alternately vulnerable and defiant portraits of young men wearing the signs and scars of their sport: A boy dancer’s pale blue leotard is dappled with sweat; a young muscular boxer peers out at us certainly from a half-closed black eye. The photographs catch glimpses of the athletes on the edge of adulthood, capturing every detail: from sweat to freckles to a sly smirk with precise detail. Moreover, the portraits present a take on male identity as captured by female photographers. Frank and Elkins (whose “Black is the Day, Black is the Night,” just finished its run at Aperture’s gallery this week) here offer a contemporary look at how young men express themselves both in their physical pursuits and in front of the camera.