NAÏVY: IN FIFTY (DEFINITIVE) PHOTOGRAPHS
4 May – 24 June 2023
Maximillian William, London is pleased to present NAÏVY: in fifty (definitive) photographs, Coco Capitán’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.
Anchored in her ever-evolving photography practice, the show will exhibit the fifty definitive photographs of the artist’s now complete Naïvy series.
Naïvy has captivated Capitán for over a decade. Navigating themes of adventure, belonging and loss of innocence, the series pays tribute to an imagined nautical universe: one peopled by Capitán’s ‘Lost Naïvy’ sailors. But Capitán does not present these figures as we know them. Rather than depicting them in the classic sailor suits of the 1940s, Capitán portrays her sailors with their bare lower halves, signifying a departure from the quintessential image. Her artistic exploration of the sailor’s image delves into the conflicting notions of autonomy and, tightly regulated military life, heteronormative masculinity, and latent queerness. These dichotomies are manifested in Capitán’s manipulation of the suit, with interventions such as embroidering daisies or the word ‘LOST’. The costumes themselves embody a departure from regimentation, serving as a canvas for Capitán to subvert traditional expectations and provoke deeper contemplation on the complexity of identity. This sartorial subversion transforms a traditionally homogenous and masculine garment into a symbol of liberation and non-conformity. Capitán’s series addresses similar ambiguities in depicting androgynous bodies donning irregular sailor suits, drawing on the queer history of the naval costume and toying with the notion of who is permitted to join the ranks.
Capitán’s sailors embody a sense of carefree abandon, their nude bodies fearlessly cannonballing and diving into the depths of dark blue waters, embodying the clever wordplay of “navy” and “naivety” that defines the series. The juxtaposition of their blithe youth with the vintage sailor suit evokes nostalgia as the unfixed future is contrasted with a bygone era. In Deepest jump to blue (2022), a figure is suspended in time and space, caught between play and danger as Capitán deftly navigates between these dichotomies expressing the bittersweet nature of coming of age.
The series was initially exhibited, in its entirety at the Parco Museum, Tokyo. In conjunction with the show, the Parco Museum produced a publication featuring a newly commissioned scholarly text by Lena Fritsch, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.