Documentary photographer and UCA lecturer Natasha Caruan has released her widely publicised photo series, Married Man, in hardback for the first time. Natasha created this series between 2008 and 2009 when she went on 80 dates with 54 married men she’d met online, through a website specifically used for starting extra-marital affairs. The resulting work has been featured by renowned titles like Dazed & Confused and The Guardian, and was released on a limited run of 500 copies by Here Press at the beginning of October.
The book examines the ethics surrounding the idea of meeting up with married men. This idea was sparked when Natasha read a magazine article about a woman who only sought to forge relationships with men who were married. At the bottom of the article were the words ‘You can be a mistress too’, directing readers to a website set up for this purpose - a new departure in 2008. Natasha says she was amazed by the idea of having an affair at the tap of a button. She says: “There’s so much fantasy, so much fictionalisation around affairs that I wanted to really show the reality of them.”
After meeting the first few men, Natasha said her notions of what it was to have an affair had been blown out of the water: “They used me like a marriage counsellor. They talked to me about how they felt lonely, but not in a 'woe-is-me' kind of way. Reading between the lines, that was why they were going to have an affair. That was their intention. And it was so banal, so everyday.”
Natasha says that the project raised interesting questions about the position of each married man: “He can’t talk to his colleagues about his difficulty at home because he’s told he has to be macho in the workplace. When he’s at home, his friends are mutual friends with his wife, so he can’t talk to them about his marriage. With me, they were able to talk about their feelings.”
The idea of the work was not to reveal or to shame the men who used the site, but to get a better understanding of what it means to have an affair in the real world, and how technology is changing the concept of relationships. Speaking of her photography, Natasha said: “I was always aware I didn’t really want their faces, I wanted gestures. An image of where the pint glass is finished and the man’s hands are pushed together in anticipation. What happens now? Do we get another drink? Do we go somewhere else? Photography has this amazing power of being able to capture that.”
Married Man is available through the Here Press website for £22.50