Katya Clover – Title Unknown (2016)
I’m of two minds about this image. It gets me painfully hot and bothered. So it at least has that going for it. The trouble is it’s a garbage image.
There’s no sort of compositional logic. It’s #skinnyframebullshit. There’s no rule of thirds, no golden mean; it’s merely the camera turned on its side as a means of most easily fitting the most information pertaining to Clover into the frame and (also the slimming effect that a vertical frame can impose.)
What makes the image attention grabbing is the super saturated skin tone, magental of the blanket and organ of the carrot against the bland straw and blah sky. (This is about as first rate an example I’ve ever seen of how faithful rendition of color does not guarantee a good image.)
I do like the concept–quite a lot, in fact. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Further, I love the giant wet spot on the blanket. If we knew a bit more about where she was, the image might be improved. Is she near a garden? Is that where the zucchini and the carrot came from? But there’s not enough of an indication to go anywhere with these questions. (Another short coming of the image.)
I’m not sure her pose works. It’s a little awkward but it does at least seam to be in service of what she’s doing. (I adore her expression.) Even though it is interesting, in that I feel most images like this would go for an angle more aligned with a straight on view of her vulva and anus. I always tell people that one can absolutely include graphic depictions of vulvas in one’s work, but if one want to know a general real for what’s objectifying vs what’s depiction, imagine the vulva is an eye lid, if the eye opens and is looking straight ahead is it making eye contact with the viewer? If so, there’s a good chance the image will end up being objectifying unless a good bit of other work is put in to avoid it.
Looking at this I’ve realized another thing about the difficult in using masturbation as a subject for art. It’s really a question of visual depiction of an experience versus staging the experience for a voyeur and by extension–due to the unfortunate white cishet male history of art–the male gaze.
If I can find someone interested in posing for it, I would actually very much like to reinterpret this concept as a fine art photograph–’cause I think there’s that sort of potential to the concept.