Plan américain

Scarlett Coten

2017 - 2019

United States

Plan Américain is the second chapter of a larger study on the complexities of contemporary masculinity, titled: "Look at me".

This project, whose ambition is to raise questions on critical topics such as the notion of gender and identity, explores how masculinity is experienced and expressed by the young generation today.

A prolongation of the work initiated in the Arab world (Mectoub 2012/2016), this last chapter is devoted to a new territory: the United States, somehow joining the defense of "modern-day modern men" whose emergence probably has something to do with the current policy. The question of individual liberties - the will to be oneself - at the core of my approach in a world then shaken by the so-called "Arab Spring", actually appears no less relevant in a nation in crisis since the last presidential elections.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the resurgence of feminist activism, the question of what it means to be a man today has ultimately turned out to be crucial.

In the New York Times, a weeklong series centered around this "urgent question in the era of Parkland, President Trump, and #MeToo", recently sparked quite a conversation, in particular about the urgent need since the election at the head of the country of a "model of masculinity that worries and frightens", of a redefinition of gender.

Michael Ian Black, in an article titled “The Boys Are Not All Right” states the fact that even if rigid gender roles are restrictive for everyone, redefining them has been mostly a one-sided effort. Women spent the last 50 years tackling womanhood stereotypes but there has been no similar debate on what it means to be a man.

"America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us. The past 50 years have redefined what it means to be female in America. To be a girl today is to be the beneficiary of decades of conversation about the complexities of womanhood, its many forms, and expressions. Boys, though, have been left behind. No commensurate movement has emerged to help them navigate toward a full expression of their gender… America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us…I think we would benefit from the same conversations girls and women have been having for these past 50 years. I would like men to use feminism as an inspiration, in the same way, that feminists used the civil rights movement as theirs. We have to start the conversation."

Today's America is the subject of my focus which culminates in a series of intimate portraits of the America I have encountered through strangers who have crossed my path. At each stop, I choose men on instinct and invite them to pose. The shots are most often fixed the next day and I always photograph subjects who are invested in this project, choosing specific locations for this experience to unfold.

By challenging sexist and reductive gender representations and by focusing on non-conformity and vulnerability, this exploration of the many shades of masculinity seeks to disrupt the myths and strives to remove any cliché or stigma of sensitivity, to reveal a broader, more inclusive concept of masculinity.

The aesthetics of the road trip is nevertheless present. The natural decors can be watched in every image as a portion of the American landscape. These fragments of landscape or settings - crossings of a fantasy and a reality that comes to collide with it - testify in their interlacing, of the experience of the road trip, to finally offer a representation of Trump's (dis)United-States.

This body of work, addressing themes of patriarchy, power, identity, race, sexuality, the unequal power relations between genders, and the female perception of men, considers the necessity of alternative viewpoints with the aim to reimagining gendered identity for today’s world, accompanied by a desire to subvert a desperately masculinised art history.

About the title:

The "Plan Américain", as French directors call it, refers to a specific way of framing movies, developed for westerns. It allows viewers to see a character from head to mid-thighs and comes from the necessity to include the character’s gun usually located below the belt, in the shot. Particularly praised by French movie makers, it brings us closer to the subject, whilst showing his or her background. A confrontational perspective, it allows for a greater proximity between the viewer and the character.

The word "plan", included in the title, also translates into "Rendez-Vous" – the ones I take with the men I choose to portray.

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  • New Orleans LA 2018

  • Seattle WA 2017

  • Cedric, Atlanta, Georgia 2018

  • Carlos. Los Angeles, California 2017

  • Jeremy. New Orleans, Louisiana 2018

  • Athens GA 2018

  • New Orleans LA 2018

  • Chattanooga TN 2018

  • Joseph, Fresno, California 2017

  • Bryan, Palm Springs, California 2017

  • Charles, Clarksdale, Mississippi 2018

  • Seattle WA 2017

  • Alexandre, Seattle, Washington 2017

  • Stephen, New Orleans, Louisiana 2018

  • Jesse, Chicago, Il 2019

  • Los Angeles 2017

  • Jeremy, New Orleans, Louisiana 2018

  • Lazarro, Gallup AR 2019

  • Greenwood, Mississippi 2018

  • Kennie, Atlanta, Georgia 2018 (1)

  • Salvatore, New Orleans, Louisiana 2018

  • Colton, Austin TX 2019

  • Brandon, South LA, California 2017 (1)

  • Robbie, Atlanta, Georgia 2018

  • Kingman AR 2019

  • Jack, New York, NY 2017

  • Gary, Joshua Tree, California 2017

  • Tory, Los Angeles, California 2017

  • Cedric, Atlanta, Georgia 2018

  • US90 Texas 2019

  • Voo, Seattle WA 2017

  • Chris, Las Cruces NM 2019

  • Robert, Natchez, Louisiana 2018

  • Sami, Flagstaff AR 2019

  • Slab City CA 2019

  • Coleman, Georges Town, Oregon 2017

  • Marcus, Taos NM 2019

  • Jesse, Chicago, Il 2019

  • Detroit 2019

  • Koran, Oakland, California 2017

  • Carlos, Los Angeles, California 2017

  • Alex, Portland, Oregon 2017

  • Tanner, Nashville, Tenessee 2018

  • Clarksdale MS 2018

  • Lucas, Santa Fe NM 2019

  • Nasser, Chicago IL 2019

  • Andrew, Los Angeles, CA 2017

  • Coronado Ranch, Arizona 2019

  • Sean, Flagstaff NM 2019

  • Alex, Athens, Georgia 2018

  • Jacob, Detroit, Il 2019

  • New Orleans LA 2018

  • Colton, Austin TX 2019

  • Elijah, Marfa TX 2019

  • Robbie, Atlanta, Georgia 2018

  • Marcus, Seattle, Washington 2017

  • Jeremy, New Orleans, Louisiana 2018