Dane – Johanna Stickland (2013)

First off: this is really the first time I’ve put a face to the name Johanna Stickland and Jesus Harold and Maude Fucking Christ on Christmas she is breathtaking.

Looking back I’ve seen oodles of her work before but it’s never clicked until this that it’s the same young woman in so many wonderful images.

I won’t lie: I am completely taken with this. If you’re a regular, you’ll ask: but what about your intractable opposition to #skinnyframebullshit?

It’s not #skinnyframebullshit. Why? Well, the composition doesn’t echo the model. Instead, the frame is oriented in this fashion to compensate for both the lack of room (the area between the shrubs and the chain link fence is quite narrow); also, if the camera were landscape oriented it would create all kinds of problems–there would be even more of the bokehed fence (which as it is teeters at the edge of too much), not to mention the shrub which you can see jutting into the lower-right corner of the frame would appear in the frame and distracting from the loose one point perspective that constantly refocuses the eye on Ms. Stickland and her intensely penetrating stare.

Lastly, this fence–like so many of its brethern–is slightly canted. Ms. Stickland’s pronounced lean away from the fence combined with the upper arm intersecting so precisely with the first horizontal third expertly balances the frame.

I am curious to know more about the image maker responsible for this but I can’t find fuck all about Dane anywhere. Alas.

Henry Gaudier-GreeneTanya Dakin: Absinthe and Caviar for Breakfast. (2013)

One (1) of six (6) 4×5 Fujiroids created by Gaudier-Greene and Dakin appearing in Issue 7 of the always comely analogue only art-zine 62nd Floor..

Tanya Dakin is a Philadelphia based model/photographer/provacateur writing a book about her vagina; she shares explicit photos depicting her DD/lg relationship and has the most beautiful ink I’ve ever seen. 

Gaudier-Green is a photographer who shares my commitment to film and shoots with Pentax 67ii.

I dig their respective work with limited reservations–Dakin is a competent image maker but I am far more taken with her no safety net approach to life and the uncompromising openness with which she shares herself; Gaudier-Greene’s has preternatural aptitude for color work and any sort of instant film he touches becomes a medium for the transmission of god-like beauty; thus the lack of specificity in his B&W film work is never something I quite know how to reconcile.

They remind me of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí: individually I respect the quality and care with which they craft their work; however, it always feels as if their personal work suffers from the echoing absence of the things that render their collaborative endeavors so effortlessly transcendent.

That’s not to say this image is free of problems and distractions–it isn’t. But between the attention to color and light, the wawker-jawed composition gets its volume turned down by the ‘realness’ of a fully-experienced unmediated moment in which two impressive talents merge into a single, uninterrupted and timeless genius.

Source: Unknown (Initial posting here, maybe?)

With depictions of desire, why is it at best & always a little of the good and a little of the bad?

I want to like this. That’s not fair–dismemberment of her right forearm and both legs by frame edge & #skinnyframebullshit aside, I like it: I swoon over freckles like it’s my job and I prefer giving over receiving. Credit should also be given to the bokehed emphasis of her expression/face as opposed to her body and her lover’s hand shielding her is a delightful gesturing.

Still I am hesitant to embrace; I think because it strikes me as a clumsy half-measure.

Yes, shifting depictions of sexual pleasure away from the usual male-bodied locus and onto female-bodied individuals is out-fucking-standing; but this well-intentioned effort only serves to reinforce the traditional one-dimensional view of female bodies as the singular site of all that is sexual.

The unfathomably talented Sarah Polley–who, duh, I LOVE–implicitly calls bullshit on the double standard with regard to depictions of nudity in her film Take this Waltz. It’s depressing how shocking it is to audience to have female nudity presented in the way male nudity is: i.e. as incidental and unconnected to sexual behaviors. This reprehensibly simple-minded conflation of female bodies with sexuality is fucking everywhere.

And it’s not not that female bodies are not or shouldn’t be sites of sexuality; they are and will be forever and ever amen. The fucked-up thing is they shouldn’t be the only such site.

Again credit to those out in front of this issue. I’m thinking of Beautiful Agony, Clayton Cubitt’s Hysterical Literature and clever work like this; or, any effort really to present sexuality as an extension of an interpersonal totality and not the requirement of a body.

Jan Emil Christiansen – Book II (20??)

The colors in this are in-goddamn-sane. the punchy yellow of the 3D glasses…

…the cream + peach + magenta of the skin tone against the red plastic…

…and the exhaust blue + gun metal grey of the storm-roiled sky.

Still, something is missing…something about those glasses triggers a series of questions:

  • Why is she wearing them?
  • What is she seeing?
  • Isn’t she worried about the weather?
  • Why is she nude?
  • How in the hell did she get here?

For me, the patent lack of answers is not charmingly ambiguous, it’s fucking frustrating.

So… I breeze over to Christiansen’s website since his Flickr no longer has any shared content.

Frustration rapidly transforms into confusion. + I don’t mean confusion in the usual sense of being lost or uncertain. I mean more: how in the exact fuck did this cat ever make such a killer image?

Le sigh.

Jan Emil Christiansen is an Urban explorer; the above, ostensibly (not that you can realy tell) an Urbex image; making it the least Urbex-y Urbex image I’ve ever seen–which probably also makes it the best. (I give negative shits about Miru Kim’s ‘thinly veiled’ narcissism.)

Not to be all Debbie Downer on Urbex. I vaguely orbit the scene + in truth urban exploration environs figure prominently in my own work.

This issue is making images in such environs demands a hodgepodge of bastardized and otherwise degraded photographic conventions: a little bit o’ landscape, some documentary and some architecture thrown in for leavening.

Put another way: if an urban explorer is there  has a camera, there is a sense that the resulting images have an in-built relevance.

Mostly he abject wonder that motivates most urbex folks to bother taking a picture usually serves the resulting work. The trouble arises when airs emerge + pretense begins to take root.

Christiansen thrills at mixing his beloved hobby with a gumbo of contradictory ends in mind: documentary, horror films, erotic + portraiture. Excepting this image the single unifying aspect of his work its the appalling discontinuity between concept and enactment.

To see these tendencies in this image, you need to look no further than what stands out the most in the frame: the 3D glasses. They do tie the frame together fabulously.

But as has been noted, their presence suggests questions for which the image contains no answers. This has to do with Christiansen’s pick and choose approach to image making blissfully unaware that the glasses shift the image away from an uncomplicated ‘document’ and veer toward a mise-en-scène, of sorts. + the audience has no recourse to fill in the blanks necessary to suspend their disbelief, unravel the story and surrender to the image.

This could have been so fucking lovely; but all just sound and fury, signifying nothing–a fact which depresses + infuriates me me all at once.

Danilo Pasquali – from Bagno (2010)

As far as explicit images go, depictions of masturbation are among my favorites. On that level at least, I find this interesting.

And I’m not sure I want to go full-blown feminist killjoy screaming exploitation every time I run across something sexually provocative but something about this really sketches me out.

It’s partly the composition–was it really necessary to frame the water streaming over her genitals at the exact fucking center of the frame?!?!!

And partly that fact that this is meant to convey the notion of masturbation, it’s clearly staged. Fake–not a problem in itself  I suppose, despite my distaste for affectation.

What irks me is the feeling–despite the compositional flaws, this image is as superior to any of the others in the series as it is more blatantly sexual–that depicting masturbatory tableau was the aim of the shoot but that wasn’t conveyed to young woman.

More likely, during the shoot Mr. Pasquali asked the model to pose as if she was using the faucet to masturbate. She probably didn’t think much of it and may have not been displeased with the final results. To me there is something untoward and skin-crawlingly sleazy about that sort of disregard for personal integrity.

Beyond that it even has an effect on the image. The position of the body reads masturbating with a faucet head. Nothing else about it conveys any sort of derivation of pleasure–except on the part of the person holding the camera.


Joanna Szproch [also : The Quiet Front & Dripbook]

Welcome to Swoon Town. Population: me.

This. Is. Just… woah & woah again & amen.

Yes, it flouts conventions I drone on & on about: hands cut off at the left frame edge, legs amputated mid-calf by the right third of the upper margin.

Underlying these choices, however, is a logic strengthening the ambiguity of Eva’s pose: is she being lowered into the water or pulled from it?

& ambiguity in keeping with the image’s liminality; lingering as it does between color & desaturation; at once strong & vulnerable, artful & lascivious.

I cannot even begin to list the host of things that go through my head when I look at this image. But two things seem vital to mention. First, I am jealous of Eva. Not because she is so much prettier than me & not because I wish this was me instead of her (even though I do a little, okay: a lot.). It’s that I want to be seen by someone (anyone, honestly) the way Szporch sees Eva through her camera.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure: I wish I had made this image. It is chapter & verse the sort of work I try–& more of than not fail–to make.


Mark James

(Note: I can neither confirm nor deny tout  droit aller’s attribution.) EDIT: The source listed (fallinglondon) is run by Mark James. (Sincere thanks to the anon who took the time to point out what should’ve been obvious right off)

This image is a train wreck.

Although the left frame edge is more or less in-line with the vertical of the tile grouting, the lens’ wide angle focal length, the rightward pan and slight up-tilt, the tile’s verticals are distractingly misaligned against the right frame edge.

Given the obvious motion blur along the bridge of her nose, I would be thinking the camera was hand-held, except there is an awful lot of illumination in a fairly tight space. I’m thinking more screen capture from a video than slow shutter speed.

And that’s really a goddamn shame because despite of the sloppy composition, there are some ingenious accidents.

Either a knee or shoulder extends beyond the edge of the tub at the lower left corner of the frame; it doesn’t especially matter which because either speak to the presence of another person in this cramped bathroom.

There’s also the young woman’s exquisitely unselfconscious pose, stooped slightly forward to slide her black panties down, the image freezes her in the moment just before she reveals the top edge of her pubic fringe. The too bright light accentuates the musculature of her hips and abdomen. The angle of her shoulders in relation to her hips causes a down tilt in her breasts, emphasizing her erect nipples against her own skin and the door behind her.

Her expression is loaded–a mix of playfulness, anxiety and maybe something not unlike hunger.

And though I am against employing the upper frame edge as a tool to preserve anonymity, in this case an additional point of tension is established between what is seen and what remains hidden.

Source Unknown

I would never claim this is a great (or even good) image: the off-kilter composition and offset flash suggest equal parts luck and artsy pretension.

And from a standpoint of image politics, it’s problematic for all the usual reasons: frame edges ‘cutting up’ and ‘immobilizing’ the three young women along with implicit kowtowing to the porn manicured male gaze that expects a smooth, depilated pubis.

I am not willing to give this a pass. However, I do appreciate the focus on a FFF threesome–something I wouldn’t mind seeing more often. Especially, if like this image, unfeigned desire (closed eyes, flushed faces and chests) and intimacy (holding hands, reaching caresses, giving and receiving of pleasure) feature in the proceedings.


porn4ladies:            passius:

Olga Karasik404 2013

The use of the mirror here is goddamn inspired– obscuring both women’s faces within the frame. (See!! There’s no reason to decapitate yourself in your images to maintain your anonymity. A little creativity goes a long way and makes for better pictures.)

It’s obviously beholden to Francesca Woodman; but it wisely cribs a page from the rock and roll rule book for performing cover songs: make it better than or do it different.

Karasik filters Woodman’s concerns through her own aesthetic sensibility in a way that marks it as reinterpretation instead of a rearranging of elements in a template.

Sadly, it’s either some #skinnyframebullshit; or, :::shudders::: cropped. (I loathe a we’ll-just-fix-it-in-post attitude. Do it right the first time or go the fuck home. Post-production is a safety net in the unlikely chance it becomes necessary; the entire fucking point is not to need it.)

I guess at least evinces some thought went into the decision to opt for the skinny frame.