Taken in 1994 and 2000, Rineke Dijkstra’s (b. 1959, Netherlands) series Bullfighters consists of four portraits of Portuguese forcados (bullfighters) fresh from the fight, their faces bloodied, their delicate brocaded uniforms ripped, their perfectly coiffed hair askew and dusty and their physical exhaustion palpable. Though photographed alone, forcados work in a team of eight to subdue the bull; their success largely depends on camaraderie and synchronisation as opposed to brute force as they shimmy across the ring in an intricate dance with one another and the bull. In this sense Dijkstra’s Bullfighters explores aspects of homosociality, a term coined by the theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to describe ‘the structure of men’s relations with other men’.
What does it mean to be a man today? The Barbican's Masculinities: Liberation through Photography considers how masculinity has been coded, performed, and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day.