Natasha Caruana’s series of photographs, Married Man documents occasions when the artist arranged ‘dates’ through dating websites designed for married men to conduct affairs. She photographed each man, concealing their identity, but also recorded them secretly using a digital recorder hidden in a red purse seen in several of the pictures. Caruana asks why the ‘dates’ are willing to put their legally binding relationships at risk, as well as what an artist’s ethical responsibilities should be.
Like Phil Collins, Caruana’s work also asks what the ethics and politics of a ‘documentary’ mode of working are assumed to be. ‘Married Man’ might be thought of as almost a thematic negative of Cindy Sherman’s work: the desiring male subjects’ expectations and fantasies of womanhood are exposed, rather than the range of roles which women are asked to adopt.
The artist asks us to behave like a detective when looking at each photograph, searching for clues about the situations. In one, a man pays for a meal in cash- so that no evidence is left for his wife to discover, an old battered table in a tired pub suggests the ‘date’ has little concept of romance. In a third, which looks like a domestic setting, 1970’s style pineapple rings adorn the artist’s plate of food. The photographs were taken on a cheap disposable camera rather than professional equipment, so all the images are intentionally grainy and loosely composed, but each has been carefully printed by hand.
Alistair Robinson, Curator. The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art