Moisey replicates this format and reproduces the ritual manual text in his book. Additionally, he includes a list of Supreme Court justices, senators, top executives, and United States presidents who have belonged to fraternities. With these choices, he situates his subjects within a larger narrative. “I was photographing a tradition,” he told Artsy. “People will feel like [the images] could have been made at any time.” Men wear nondescript clothing, and there’s little indication of any environment beyond the fraternity house itself, which reinforces their insular bonds. Including the funeral image, there are only a handful of photographs taken outdoors—indeed, an acute sense of claustrophobia pervades the photographs.
The men’s house itself is a wreck. Moisey photographs cheap cabinets and a filthy kitchen floor upon which a stolen road sign lies, the “D” in “DUMP” out of frame. Elsewhere, a heap of books fall in messy piles off a cart, window blinds hang unevenly, and solo cups litter the ground. Men puke over trash cans. Rooms are dim. The very structure appears to bolster depravity and chaos.
Roles for women are limited here. In one picture, a stripper lies on a table while the men around her point, laugh, and inspect her genitals—like the drinks on the table, she is only there to be consumed. Another woman in a cable knit sweater rubs a man’s shoulder as he vomits—the Madonna counterpart to the whore. Perhaps the only (yet still fraught) moment of female agency is when a young woman flashes Moisey’s camera.