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Natasha Caruana’s The Married Man
The BalticPhotography Natasha Caruana

This photographer dated 54 married men in nine months

A London-based artist discovered that love in the digital age is much more about loneliness than sex

Dating 54 men in nine months is an impressive feat. For photographic artist Natasha Caruana, it was also an art project, as the London-based creative set herself that exact challenge to find out how technology is defining relationships today. Signing herself up to various dating websites, Caruana met with the married men on over 80 occasions at different London locations, all of them unaware that she was recording or documenting her time with them. “For each of the men we would chat online for evenings on end, then we would talk on the phone, and then we would finally meet face-to-face,” she explains, noting a particular difficulty in keeping track of the men’s screen names, fake names and real names. “It was all very confusing stuff, especially towards the end, when I was meeting up to four a day!”

With such an emotive project on her hands, the artist set out clear barriers for herself from the beginning, explaining, “Every so often I would go on a date where the man was clearly very uncomfortable. In these cases I felt I couldn’t take any photos.” However – as she reveals – one of her suitors almost crossed that line. “On one date we went to London Zoo and I had such a good time that when we were saying our goodbyes I realised I’d forgotten to turn the recorder on!” she explains, referring to the hidden voice recorder tucked in one of her handbag’s compartments. “I was pretty strict with myself about not getting emotionally involved in any of the men and their stories. I had a long-term boyfriend throughout the whole project, which helped me define boundaries.”

At the conclusion of the series, and on reflection of her transcripts, Caruana found that most men were spurred on by loneliness rather than sex, a realisation that shattered the spoon-fed ‘Hollywood’ cliche of what an affair ‘looks like’. “During the initial five dates, I found the men were mostly using me as a quasi-marriage counselor – a contrast to the glitz and glamour of how we imagine an affair to be. You wouldn’t think a man would take you on a date and just talk about their wife!” she says, adding, “The work throws up interesting questions of ethics and power roles. Across that tabletop affair, the men are cheating on their wives and family but I am cheating on them. It wasn’t ever a personal attack on individuals, I wanted to explore the narrative of what infidelity looked like today.”

Caruana is now searching for couples who have experienced and successfully overcome cheating for a new video commission. If this is you please get in touch here

Caruana’s images are currently on show until 16 December in Love is An Act, hosted by London’s Open Data Institute. The artist will also be signing copies of the book Married Man – published by HERE Press – alongside a Q&A at London’s Copeland Book Market on Saturday 1 August. To see more of Caruana’s work, click here, or follow her on TwitterInstagram and Facebook