Leonardo’s work negotiates societal expectations of masculinity; achievement; collective identity; and the experience of failure.
- Patrick D. Wilson
Shaun Leonardo uses his body to communicate and portray imagery, in this case, hyper-masculine images of physicality – at the expense of his own physical comfort. The function of the male body has long been a signifier of self-worth. The body affirms and legitimizes his feeling of control and agency over his environment. In this sense Shaun “El C.” Leonardo is performing two very distinct actions at once. On the one hand, he uses performance as a venue for discussion of how men have internalized culture’s preconceived notions of how men should act and appear. And on the other hand, his performances call attention to how these expectations are not only strange, but also not applicable to the rest of men at large. We are not all super heroes, that these spectacles of masculinity contain elements of absurdity and arbitrariness. Leonardo’s work calls our attention to these spectacles not for their immediate content but rather as symbols of our cultural acceptance of an arbitrary and potentially irrational masculine norm.
- Dave Sinaguglia
Even more radical in the context of [sport], however, is the idea of relating masculinity to performance, for the very notion of performance strips [sport] of its spontaneity, its essential naturalness, and subjects a chance series of athletic events, governed by instinctual, precognitive behavior, to the analytical potential of scripting – quite literally, to the process of representation.
- Christopher Bedford