(NSFW) Blood, Milk and Domestic Fetishisation; an art project


 

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When a male photographer (Martin Sanders -  https://www.facebook.com/martinsandersphotography/ ) wants to work with a feminist, erotic artist, that can bring up a lot of interesting issues and questions... namely to do with perspective, motivations, trust and the politics of aesthetics or more succinctly, the level of internalised misogyny said photographer might (despite himself) have... my instinct is that i, as said feminist erotic artist, don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being directed by a man in that scenario. I say a man, as in any man because i think politically, that dynamic is too rife with hidden isms emerging. But, that said, i like the idea of playing with that. Playing with the roles he and i both have. So i agreed for the shoot these pics are from, on the basis that he was there purely to document my work. Document me taking pictures of myself. All the styling, poses etc were led entirely by me and given the way the shoot went, i sense they would have a very different reception if he had been the orchestrator... Each of the following couplets will be of one picture i took and one Martin took. Martin is a brilliant photographer, its one of the many things he does well...for me, it is a relatively new endeavour so the difference in quality and editing etc is indeed evident.  But for me, more interestingly is the perspective and the ‘performance’...

 

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In this first set, his is pic one mine is pic two, there is a sense of intimacy in mine, as if i am sharing something (the juices running down my hands as i finger the melon) with you, the viewer... but that intimacy is broken by the curtain of the veil, leaving me safe and slightly untouchable. Whereas i feel Martin’s has in one sense very much a voyeuristic feel... I’m not performing for or to him, he is outside of the immediate frame but it feels somehow more intimate than mine due to the angle caught beneath the veil i am using to keep my intended audience at a distance...

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Picture one is taken and edited by Martin and picture two by myself. We are referring to the shoot as Blood and Milk for reasons that will become evident later.

I am posing for myself. Looking straight at myself (into my #iPhone on #selfiemode). This is the first time I’ve allowed someone to photograph me doing my thing. I thought i would feel more nervous than i was, despite him being a good close friend. But it felt natural. This picture shows clearly how relaxed i am, how in my own skin i feel... it shouts sassy in a loud, husky whisper... there is an eroticism about it, i feel, because of the comfort and arousal displayed at viewing my own #sexuality, my prowess...my own creation and performance of the self. It is intimate and strong and direct.

Martin’s photo is taken either just before or just after, i can’t recall but where it lacks that same level of intimacy, it reigns supreme with it’s capturing A sense of the #macabre. The full réflection of my face in the mirror has an eerieness that adds an edge to the erotic nature of the picture. An edge suggestive of the complexity surrounding #femalesexuality perhaps? Cos it looks almost sad and the #clownface being sharp and dominant has connotations of how women are often forced (literally or metaphorically (societally) to play a role rather than be themselves, sexually) I personally think this is a better picture all in all, both aesthetically and conceptually) Or maybe cos i didn’t take it, it’s a blanker canvas and therefore easier to add meaning to... who knows?

 

 

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In this set, the first shot is Martin's and the second is mine. Unlike the other couplets, these 2 were not different angles/perspectives on the same shot. But i still feel they go together thematically.

My shot was a still from a piece of film i made of myself dancing...at this point i had asked Martin to lace me up tighter. I like this frame (and three others that go with it) in particular because it is resonant of a line from one of my poems, ‘i am but a dolly, with a button and a key’. No, of course i do not see myself as a dolly but i am hyper aware that this is how #patriarchy wants to see me, where it places my value. Martin tying up my corset looks almost like a puppeteer making his puppet (dolly) move. The position i am in is sexualised in a standardised porn fashion; ass up, back straight and the expression on my face is strange... am i resigned? Sad? Deep in thought? Completely blank, cos i am but a dolly? Open to interpretation ultimately, the perfect dolly. This is how women are often made to feel about expressing their sexuality. That if it is done for the purposes of the #malegaze, if the strings of their expression are being pulled by their inherent desire to please men, then and only then it is valid. But ultimately they will have no choice in what happens to them, cos in the eyes of #patriarchy, submission is a necessary part of being a valid woman and being raped is the ultimate manifestation of man being dominant and woman, in reflection being weaker, submitting. It is perhaps seen as a form of validation. As validating as marriage cos, in the old days, if a man raped a woman it was virtually a marriage proposal, in that he would be taking that woman for his wife. Pull my strings. Make me dance for you. Tighten me up till i fit...

Martin’s picture shows a woman (me) bound in chains (that force her into the position of being bent over) and wrapped up in cling film. I use cling film a lot in my dress ups and art, a) because it is a beautiful material when worn, has an almost other worldly quality about it, but also b) because of the inherent connotations with domesticity. It is suggestive of #womanswork and therefore a#womansplace. Which is where the 2 photos meet up. My face is obscured, my identity unnecessary, the chains forcing me into a position of submission; bent over to be fucked in the ass? Literally and metaphorically shafted. Wrapped up in my place as domestic, domesticated, the little woman, her indoors, the dolly.

They are both dark and disturbing images to me but still inherently erotic. I wonder sometimes how much internalised misogyny i have within me and how that presents. I hope these photos make people think about theirs too.

 

 

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In this set, picture 1 is is taken by Martin. Picture 2 taken by me, a #timedselfie and very specifically posed.

Martin’s picture was taken first. Initially, when the blood and milk first came out, there was no light on in the bathroom, we were just using lights shining from the landing. I think i was much more relaxed with the overhead light off and perhaps that shows with my attempts to cover my face in my shot. In many ways, my pose is quite a classic model pose and is fairly boring, except for the context. The light was on, there was no hiding and not only did i not want to show my face but i went for traditional classical beauty pose, ie maybe i lost my confidence a bit.

Why blood and milk? For me, they are 2 of the most primal of liquids. Blood, a substance that binds us all, that is part of our creation as humans and is very symbolic for me of #womanhood in regards #menstruation and making babies... milk is a fascinating liquid. The way it is produced and tailored specifically to the needs of the individual child the mother has birthed. It is a truly magical liquid. As abstract general liquids, they produce less of a reaction than when they are tied in specifically to them being produced by a woman’s body. Think of the bullshit controversy around women #breastfeedinginpublic and the ways in which women are treated as dirty when they are on their periods, how expensive sanitary products are, etc. These are just some of the ways in which it is evident that the #powerofwomen is feared, as it has been throughout history. Feared but turned around on us so we feel shame at these things... note again the slight discomfort coming out as#conformity in my selfie, because the lights are on. Because i am more comfortable and at ease in the shadows, Martin has captured something real, raw and beautiful because of those things. I look like a goddess or a high priestess immersed in some kind of ritualistic demonstrations of the power of the divine feminine...

 

 

 

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The last couplet are chronologically different, as they were not taken at the same point in the shoot. They are linked because in my mind they are the most powerful shots myself and Martin took. Powerful in the sense of the message i feel they convey, but obviously that is ultimately up to you, the audience.

The first one is mine, and is very posed (using my iPhone timer). I used this pic some time ago to accompany a poem i wrote (Perspectives - which i will post in it’s own right). One of the lines in the poem is ‘A feminist in bondage... so philosophically confused...’ and maybe that sums up much of what I’m attempting to convey with this pose. The total and utter lack of confusion in my mind around my strength, my power, my autonomy as a woman set against the context of my love of the raw and some might say darker side to sex and sexuality. A side many would attribute to women being dominated. As human beings we are quite driven by and drawn towards symbolism; we have religion. We have political systems of belief. We have art. All symbolic expressions of what it is to be human. But sex and sexuality are not that different. The attraction we hold towards another human being that makes us want to engage sexually with them, is driven partly by chemistry and hormones but also partly by symbolism. Our aesthetic tastes in people for example are not always logical or rational. I am not a fan (weirdly) of long nails (in men or women), i find neatly coiffed eyebrows a massive turn off and aftershave as a rule i don’t like either. I do have an odd proclivity for beautiful hands, lazy eyes and nicely shaped testicles though 😂😂😂 And the random things that arouse us are not (rational or logical) either. Yes, i find cling film, gaffa tape, chains, heels and fetish underwear all very sexy and arousing. And i don’t feel ashamed about any of those aspects of my sexuality. Cos it’s kind of beyond my intellectual self. They are metaphorical in that that are suggestive of deep yearnings and desires, of the sort most of us never unpick.

The pose i am sat in, the way I’m holding the chain taught. The way I’m glaring at you, the audience in my iPhone camera, are all very much saying, I’m the one with cuntrol here... bow down and avert your fucking eyes bitch! I feel like i am somehow taking the tools of my oppressors and using them to set myself free...

The 2nd part of the couplet is the picture taken by Martin. Initially, when i posted this on Instagram, it was taken down for breeching guidelines of decency, it being the case that bottom cracks are not allowed to be on show (i would have less of an issue with this if it wasn’t the case that there is huge reams of male gaze oriented soft porn, easily searchable on Instagram, showing far more than i have in this shot... this really can only be read in the light that Instagram (Facebook) has political bias... cos it’s ok to be spreadeagled if you are propping up misogyny, NOT if you are trying to present an image of female empowerment and self possession, but i digress...another post perhaps :-) ).

This is perhaps my favourite overall shot. It just sums so much up for me. I am covered in blood at this point and trying hard to keep my balance in the bath. This position was slid into naturally, due to the slipperyness of said blood (fake btw!!!) and my arms were anchoring me on the wall... the level of total and utter brazen standardised porn that comes through in this pic, was not specifically intended when i was posing, but it was clocked when the shot was taken I’d imagine and i suppose I’ve picked it partly because of that.

The woman in the photo (moi) is bent over, presenting herself in a highly suggestive fashion. Some might say, begging to be fucked... in many ways this could be read as a highly submissive pose, inviting a man to do as he will to her. Offering herself up to be used, to be taken. Removing her agency. On the other hand though, the pose could also be read as slightly dominant. SHE is presenting HERSELF. She is taking up all the space she can by exaggeratedly spreading her blood soaked thighs. She has bondage buckles on her wrists but she is not shackled... and just what was it she was inviting the man to do.. . And why?

Maybe this woman simply wants to be fucked and taken savagely for the purposes of her own sexual kink. Perhaps...or Maybe she feels a need to present herself as sexually available, desirable, as a way to ‘pay rent for taking up space’. The direct connotations of this photo are powerful enough but there are also suggestions of the ways in which women just get constantly shafted in this world and the many different, creative ways we try to address that imbalance for ourselves. Maybe this woman gets the shit beaten out of her by her partner but knows that standing up to him could get her or her children killed. So she takes it, plays submissive to stay alive. Maybe she works in an all male environment and is often accused of being aggressive or bossy when she complains about poor treatment, so keeps her mouth shut because she wants that promotion. Maybe this woman refuses to wear short skirts cos she is terrified of being raped and believes it is her responsibility to stop men raping. Maybe this woman is not yet a woman, maybe she is a girl still...and maybe she is learning from the way she sees male/female dynamics being played out, how women are forced to sublimate themselves in order to survive. Maybe we can try and teach her something better.

 

 

     

 

   

 

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(S)llew la Wulf
(S)llew la Wulf

Yet another artist screaming (colourfully) into the void. I like to dance. I write. I do self portraiture and i draw... I cover topics ranging from racial bias to female sexuality to capitalism to rape culture and of course, love ❤️


Llewella_la_femme
Llewella_la_femme

Some of my more political writing and art...

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