The photographer exploring gay sexuality in public spaces

Transgression isn’t just history — it’s inspiration for photographer Marc Martin. Obscenity and candour exist side by side in his provocative images which explore masculinity and eroticism through a nostalgic lens.

Marc’s 2017 exhibition Public Toilets, Private Affairs at Berlin’s Schwules Museum looks at the history of old fashion cruising and the public toilet as a safe space for self expression, community and exploration.

“Within the gay community, these spaces remain more a source of shame than pride” he says of the series, “and yet, before cruising apps, these urinals, which sheltered the escapades of so many gay men, transvestites, prostitutes and libertines, were also sites of unbridled freedom. Within these atypical places of transience and sociability, social differences were blurred and otherwise separated cultures briefly mixed.”

Showing scenes that disturb is intentional, aiming to enlarge the frame of tolerance by allowing a complicit gaze on sex and questioning our notions of beauty and repulsion.

“In our over-hygienic society, presenting subjects that are taboo, filthy, shameful, it’s itself a form of militantism. Let’s not disappoint those who think that two guys who openly love each other is already an intolerable thing… I claim this freedom to express, explicitly or not, a diversity of colors and sexualities.”

In September, Marc will debut images from a new series, MACHO as part of collective exhibition Instinct#6.

Deconstructing myths around hypermasculinity and placing its subjects as both objectified and in control, the story offers a sometimes humorous take on the unsuspected eroticism and pleasure of manual workers and labourers.

See more images from both series below and find out more about Marc Martin on his website.

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