FeminismoPornoPunk – Documentary still from Public domain porn version (2008)
[Public Domain] is (like) a life-size board game in which the spectator is more than just a pawn. Theatre-maker Roger Bernat assembles a group of people – the audience – on a square. Who are they, where do they come from and what is their relationship to each other? They walk across the square while listening to a series of questions and instructions on their headphones. Some are more innocent than others. The same can’t be said for the result; through the participants’ simple movements, small groups start to form in the audience. These micro communities expose underlying social patterns and tell a tale that Bernat carefully orchestrates. While [Public Domain] starts off looking like a 3D poll brought to life, the project ends up transforming into a bizarre fiction.
I’m an extremely sexual person. However, I’m also aware that as someone who passes for straight, white and cismale–although I would never claim any of those terms in self-identification–I experience a degree of privilege.
As someone who passes, it’s assumed that I fit squarely into the cismale heteronormative default. I don’t though. I care very much for others’ autonomy in self-identification but the truth is I’ve never found label words especially useful. About the only label I don’t dispute is the distinct of being a ‘switch’ on the D/s spectrum.
It’s difficult to lack a readily available means of expression. On the one hand I want to distinguish myself from what I may be perceived as being by others. But how do I do that in a way that isn’t appropriative at the same time as also not being entirely fucked up and entitle?
I can’t say I’ve discovered anything that works. But I have definitely learned the importance of safe spaces–and not just safe spaces for me but spaces that are safe for myself and inclusive and safe for others, too.
At present this fits the form of a tweak to the ubiquitous Golden Rule: do unto others only as the would of their own free will and volition do unto you. (Being that I am on the autism spectrum, this isn’t the most effective coping mechanism…)
The above image suggests several things:
- I can’t look at this and not flashback to that scene in The East where the anarchist kids are playing spin the bottle. It strikes me that there’s huge overlap between that space in the one above; an emphasis on intimacy, connection and using consent and negotiation/re-negations to test/push through largely arbitrary boundaries. (It’s also enormously helpful–not to mention fucking wonderful–that The East includes a queer perspective!)
- It also reminds me of Stranger by the Lake (a great film for it’s artfully graphic depictions of gay sex and is currently streaming via Netflix). With the world growing increasingly compartmentalized, sex is everywhere but unless you are a multinational corporation or resemble the board of said multinational corporation–whether or not you have access to similar mountains of cash in your private life–there is increasingly no viable venue for safely and consensually engaging with sex on a non-conceptual, tangible level. I think the idea of creating such space is important. But it’s hardly new. The LGBTQAAI community has fought tooth and nail to create such spaces.
This relates to the above image insofar as it is very clearly a safe space, concerned with sexual expression that insists on equal space for queerness.
It also doesn’t feel as if it’s about exhibitionism. That’s a huge thing for me. I am hardly shy. Truth told, there’s like maybe three things I would never consider doing in front of a camera. But I am not an exhibitionist. I don’t have any sort of problem with exhibitionists. But I am not happy with my body. However, for better or worse, my sexuality is tied to the body I have. (I regret very little in life but I wish that I’d done something like appear on I Feel Myself–although they probably wouldn’t take me and I’d have to do something more in line with Gentleman Handling, unfortunately… stupid biologically male body.)
I wish I knew where I could find spaces like the ones this image points toward. I would love to be able to express my sexuality more openly in a fashion that was neither intrusive or entitled.I wish there were more spaces like this–focused on rejecting mass marketed fantasies and instead projecting DIY ethos and creating for ourselves the truthful and open spaces for complicated expression we most want to see in the world.
Interesting, the lack of such space is perhaps the biggest obstacle I face in my own creative work. i patently object to the myth of the rock star photographer. I think the vast majority of Tumblr photographers (good or bad) use fine art nude photographer as a pretext to appropriately channel sexual energy. I have an immense problem with that–not in and of itself but if that’s really your goal then at least be up front about it.
I love looking at naked bodies just as much as the next person. But I am more interested in the correlation between you and your body–with particular emphasis on your negotiation of your own sexuality. I want to ask what turns you on–not as any kind of prelude so much as I find it endlessly, almost transcendentally intriguing to understand how someone else experiences something that profoundly moves them. I’m curious as to what their experience of puberty was like, how they masturbate, whether or not they’d be comfortable with showing me? Is it okay if I show them?
I can’t approach photography except as collaboration between equals. The subject has just as much of a stake in things as does the photographer. And as far as my own work goes, what affects me is conveying something of the highs and lows, the narrative of what it is to be a being with a carefully considered inner life, hopes dreams and aspirations but who is also tied to an inconvenient simultaneously autonomous and desiring body.
It seems simple enough but it goes back to the question of would the person I am asking realistically ask the same in return from me. So far my life so far has demonstrated the answer is a resounding no.