In his The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche—bear with me—suggests Athenian drama as the highest form of human art due to its seamless fusion of the two most basic human tendencies; he termed these: the Apollonian (critical) and the Dionysian (libidinal).

Perhaps, this is not a bad way of beginning to analyze whether and to what extent a work of intended as pornography can transcend the intention of its creation and be seen as art.

This image suggests an approach to me because I have two very equal and opposite responses to it that can more-or-less be mapped along axes of critical and sensual responses.

Looking at this image with a critical eye I appreciate that, excepting for her knees and feet extending beyond the edge of the frame, this young woman is presented intact within the frame. If she were to feel so inclined she could get up and walk away.

She is aware of herself being seen at the same time she refuses to engage the spectator by closing her eyes and positioning her feet in a way which ensures the focal point remains her body as a whole not just her vulva.

On the other hand, the kitchen backdrop is hell of problematic. Whether intended or not, it portends an unchallenged allegiance to prevalent patriarchal attitudes.

Technically, the image is over-exposed and would have benefited immeasurably from the photographer taking a half step back before clicking the shutter. Also, the bright light falling on both the subject and the wall behind her flattens the image.

My libidinal response to this image is less conflicted. This woman is my decidedly my type: petite brunette with Eastern European features and barely-there breasts; and wonder of wonders, she has pubic hair—a hairless pubis can be breath-taking when it is the exception not the rule but I prefer hair down there.

But I cannot read this either as an Apollonian or Dionysian. My gaze drifts until it locks in on the slight glimpse of the hollow held by her labial folds. Then her set against the (cold?) wood floor reintroduce the angle at which her porcelain legs. My eyes scan upward and I find myself faced again and again with another human who desires (and is desired), dreams(is dreamed of) and needs (and is needed).

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