If you were following us back in December, you may remember a post we did about Gracie Hagen‘s project, “Illusions of the Body.” This proved our most popular post to date, and was even flagged and banned by Facebook as inappropriate, something I covered in a separate post. Since the December post, Hagen has finished putting a book together of full color images of the project, including 17 never before released images. The book is available for pre-order on sale for $50 (regularly $60) to be shipped on May 1st, and each advance purchase will be numbered and signed by Hagen. What better way to show your support of work like Hagen’s, work that shouldn’t be censored by social media just because it features nude bodies, than to own your very own collection of these powerful images? Hagen was able to answer a few questions about the ban and her work via email.
After searching through the deepest corners of the internet pornography universe, the South African mixed media artist Von Brandis blanked out the carnal content in an attempt to reinterpret sexual imagery. The project, titled “Obscene Interiors” somehow heightens the voyeuristic thrust of the erotic images; behind a shield of white, sexual activities become more mysterious and forbidden, forcing the viewer to examine the images with more self-consciousness than the original porn might elicit.
The series also works to redefine the erotic. As blanked-out figures magically flatten and morph into a single two-dimensional being, signs of intercourse and movement disappear. In contrast to the white-out bodies, which often appear to be pasted onto the photographs, the space of the pornography sets do indeed become the “obscene” photographic content, inviting the eye to penetrate their depths. The pornographic subject becomes the interior itself: the cheesy bedding, the slightly parted curtain, a glistening clock radio, a stained rug.
The images, if slightly dehumanized by their alterations, maintain their intense sexual charge; the off-kilter frame suggests movement within the room, an amateur pornographer’s fast and anxious shots. Shadows billow from the white shapes, hinting at the breath, dimension and passions of the human form.
The series, with its censorship, paradoxically becomes more suggestive and uncomfortable. Forced to consider the erotic impulse and visual fetishization, the viewer cannot help but feel awkward about our engagement with the porn. In this way, this powerful piece touches on contemporary debates about the medium: is porn a healthy, natural human activity, or is it objectifying and morally ambiguous? What do you think? (via Lost at E Minor)
French artist Geneviève Santerre‘s body of work is, well, about the body. Explicitly erotic, her work is shocking and provocative. It speaks to central concerns about women’s bodies and sexuality in general. From human-animal-creature genital hybrid sculptures to bronze cast vaginas to a pair of discharge-soaked underwear hand stitched with the words “shit happens” to a tangled and suspended speculum to a performance piece wherein she wears a Niqab adorned with silicon vaginal molds, Santerre is by no means subtle. Her work is direct and compelling, challenging the viewer with something powerfully resonant yet potentially disturbing. Santerre pushes boundaries, asking us to reflect on recontextualized sexual images.
Santerre explains in her statement, “Belonging to a generation that is supposedly open sexually, I wonder why this jubilation is considered taboo. Despite some improvements since the feminist movement in the 1960’s, contemporary society remains patriarchal and regards women as objects, while frowning upon sexually open women.
Artist Rik Garrett explores physical relationships in his series Symbiosis. By painting directly onto the photograph, Garrett literally fuses two bodies into one. Two writhing bodies seem to become one organism. It’s a nearly a literal interpretation of “two becoming one flesh”.
Garrett says, “Symbiosis is a new series exploring ideas regarding love, relationships, magic, Alchemy and mutually beneficial partnerships in nature.”
While the idea sounds romantic the imagery can appear otherwise. The single masses almost appear to be struggling against itself, perhaps alluding to the complexities of sexuality and relationships.
SVA grad Mu Pan brings East Asian woodblock aesthetics to his colorful, animated paintings. Not much of a “Zen” vibe is to be found here, though. Full of life, the Brooklyn artist’s work explodes off the canvas in a rush of sex and violence. Base, animalistic sensibilities are collected and processed en masse within each piece, and hardly any opportunity for impact is passed over. Really engrossing stuff, whether the focus is placed on a few central figures, or all-encompassing atmosphere.
Scot Sothern is an older photographer, who due to a gnarly motorcycle injury, now walks with a cane. His stunning black and white photographs taken years ago explore what many consider to be the world’s oldest profession, prostitution, while his recent color shots document the random scenes he encounters on a daily basis. And while many of us roll up our windows and try to avoid even subtle eye contact with street corner hookers, Sothern welcomed them into motel rooms to pose for his unnerving lens and even partake in debauchery reserved for a pervert’s imagination and Charles Bukowski’s pen. He was probably the only person to ever shoot his subjects with something other than a gun or semen and his photos, mostly taken in the late 1980s went largely unseen until his first exhibit in 2010 at DRKRM Gallery in downtown LA – just blocks away from where a fan could’ve gotten into some serious trouble if they were inspired by the work. Besides living a wild life and making sure to have a camera there to capture it all, Sothern is also a wonderful writer who is able to describe his experiences with literal crack-addicted whores like they were the most elegant things you’ve ever read about in your life. WARNING: This post contains images that are NSFW.
Nick Farrell is a photographer with the ability to capture the essence of sex. And while he primarily shoots naked or next-to-naked girls for his personal projects, he has a diversity and range that has allowed him to work on everything from editorials with Mickey Avalon, short films for fashion brands like Han Cholo, to even the occasional shower shot of pornstar Jessie Andrews. But his real skillset is in his ability to make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable while they’re on set. That’s why there’s still this genuine quality to his nudes and his models look naturally flirtatious, rather than aggressive and overly posed. WARNING: This post contains images that are NSFW.
Jesus. Heather Benjamin is one wild chick.