I KNOW we all have bigger concerns now - the swelling hospitals, the swooning hospitals, the swooning markets - but I can't stop turning over the case of Benjamin Griveaux, the French politician who dropped out of race for Paris mayor some months ago.

He had been direct-messaging a woman on Instagram and he sent her a video of himself performing a solo private act; an artist got hold of the video and leaked it online, and with a day, his political career was over.

The video wasn't cute - he foolishly sent it from his official account, and the camera angle was all wrong - but I'affaire Griveaux seems to demand a new recognition of how men picture themselves today.

Haven't most men of my generation, as our phones camera got sharper and the dating app pools got more selective, taken a libidinous bathroom selfie.

Won't these images surface, even if we were smart enough to crop out our heads? Isn't it statistically certain that a few of the prime ministers of 2050 sent nudes of themselves.

Maybe we should talks then, chaps [and otherwise identified readers], about men and photography. I've been scrutinizing the fashion editorials and Instagram promos and display a new gender fluidity, with doelike models whose pronouns I cannot guess.

I've been watching, too, as a new fascist machismo takes hold in the political sphere and in its digital reflections, as men have embraced a virulent, even violent misogyny if the face of economic and social crisis.

Masculinities soften and harden, and men fashion themselves in new ways, against new backdrops, with new tools. And if gender is a performance, social media has given it the intensity and sometimes the reach, of a Hollywood production.

I fear you won't find much of these changes in ''Maasculinities,'' a soggy and slothful exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London through May 17.

It's a photography and a film show, and it includes 50 artists, men and women, but its research is thin and its surprises are few.

What does it mean, anyway, to be a man? What do you have to wear, to sound like, to look like? Valid questions but you could toggle between Vestiare and Tinder on your phone to get profounder answers than here. [The show tours later this year to the Rencontres d'Arles photography festival in southern France, and then to the Gropius Bau in Berlin.]

''Masculinities'' isn't dumb so much as dated and could have been mounted 25 years ago with hardly any change to its theoretical model or its artist list.

The curator, Alona Pardo, has stuffed the Barbican's galleries with more than 300 worls but relied too much in innocuous classics from the 1960s to the 1990s. Peter Hujar's orgasmic youths, Robert Mapplethorpe's bodybuilders, Rineke Dijkstra's bloodied bullfighters, Issac Julien's Harlem Renaissance reveries.

Its ideas are superannuated and unworldly; though the show includes a smattering of African and Asian artists, it hobbles forward on the clutches of decades-established Western theory, familiar from any undergraduate syllabus.

[On the walls are not one but two large-type quotes from Laura Mulvey's 1975 standby, ''Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema.'' which every art history student learns to trot out for the final exam paper on the male gaze.]

The honor and serving of this beautiful subject and work, continues. The World Students Society thanks Art Review author, Jason Farago.


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