Laura Brink – missrudy (201X)

I’m not 100% on the attribution for this. While there is definitely enough of a stylistic similarity to guess that it might be Brink’s work–it’s substantively different as far as tone and form.

Either way: I like it a lot.

There’s an increasing amount of work out there preoccupied with representing menstruation. As you’ll certainly recall Rupi Kaur’s Period went several rounds with the ‘Gram censors. (See also: Ashley Armitage’s The Girls Room series, several of Lynn Kasztanovics photos from more than a decade ago & this blog’s #menstruation tag.)

Representation matters. However, I think more often than not by the time we actually start talking about the importance of representation–it’s unfortunately almost always in defense of those who are arguing that the fact that there’s already some representation means that more representation will result in the erasure of the status quo’s perspective.

That’s why I think we should shift the representation matters conversation from quantity of representation to quality of representation. (Because with representation comes less nuanced and non-contemplative knee-jerk demographic place holders instead of fully realized, dimensional representations.)

What I like about this is that although you can read it as being about menstruation–there is something fantastic about it. The boots suggest something at least somewhat badass if not warrior like.

There’s a sense of damage, too. Even if this isn’t a depiction of menstruation, there’s no way this blood isn’t emerging from an intimate wound. But with the two fish trying to swim against the stream–salmon, at least, swim upstream to procreate. The whole thing has a strong sense of the cyclic.

I’m not comfortable going as far as to say that this is necessarily a personal mythologization of menstruation. (Much to my chagrin, I do not menstruate–although I am aware that cramps can be demonstrably equivalent to the pain associated with a heart attack and that I’m sure bleeding from genitals for 8 days a month would probably make me far bitchier than I already am.) But I know from friends who do menstruate that there’s a tendency to think of your cycle as something familiar–Aunt Flow coming to visit, Shark Week, etc.

Even if I can’t necessarily interpret the elements of person myth underlying this, there’s a consistency in the presentation that suggests a fully realized way of relating to the experience.

It’s likely a problematic association but one of my first internet friends back in the early 90s claimed to be able to sense past lives of her friends. She always maintained that I had been a Russian peasant girl in a previous life. It was an idea I never questioned–although I was less than willing to engage with it then than I am now.

I think the difference is that there have been a handful of moments in my life where it feels as if another presence possesses my body and while in possession of it, I experience something that is comparable to the way that giving sexual pleasure at the same time as receiving sexual pleasure can cause this exponential feedback loop where you try to give back the same pleasure you are receiving and your partner(s) lean in also and the intensity builds crescendos upon crescendos or orgasmic pleasure. These moments it feels like I am sharing that experience with a ghost. I think of the ghost as a Russian peasant girl.

[↑] Lisa YuskavageReclining Nude (2009); [↖] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↗] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [+] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [←] Helias DoulisUntitled from Blossoms of Solitude (2016); [→] Alexandre HaefeliUntitled from The Company of Men series (2016); [-] Source unknown – Title Unknown (2014); [↙] Ismael GuerrierSacred Garden #1 (2018); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↓] Source unknown – Title unknown (19XX)

Follow the thread.

Yulia NefedovaUntitled (201X)

Nefedova’s style is akin to what you’d get if you locked the guy who made Where’s Waldo in a room with nothing except Toilet Paper Magazine back issues, American Apparel catalogs and reams of blank paper.

In other words: casually irreverent, audaciously transgressive and charmingly warped.

Yet, what makes the work singular is its curiosity. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen people doing most of the things Nefedova documents hers as doing. And there’s this wonderful ambiguity about whether she’s asking herself I wonder what this would look like vs. I know what this looks like because I’m just drawing from what I see in my own life–an ambiguity frequently complicated by her tendency to draft her own likeness into her visual experiments. It’s not always easy to determine whether these self-referential flashes are tongue-in-cheek jokes or confessions.

RuddTitle unknown (2017)

I love this even if the composition is somewhat funky. (Yes: the ottomon and her arm draw the eye at a diagonal up and right toward her sternum, the equal yet opposite angle of the couch pushes the eye past her face to the hand thrown behind her head; the mass of negative space is like the tension of a bowstring when the arrow is loosed and the gaze spans back to where he’s feasting upon her desire–this subsequently then causes the eye to shuttle back and forth between him and her.)

It works but the layout is just strange and if I had to guess I’d say that this is a drawing made from some sort of image reference. (This would explain the strange layout because when you’re drawing you can put a camera anywhere but in the real world their are limitations on where a camera will fit.)

Still: I really do like the fact that the way the illustration scan preferences her pleasure above its catalyst. And when you subsequently realize the cause of the pleasure, the connection sharpens her experience somehow.

There’s also the little things–like I don’t exactly understand if it’s a stylistic contrivance but both of them appear to have their nails painted black. It’s small but it’s not a bad tact to remind you that her extended right arm is still part of the composition despite the way the viewer’s gaze is encouraged to loop between her face and his.

Lastly, it’s great that below his left armpit and her right inner thigh you can see a puddle of vaginal mucous and presumably saliva spreading on the couch. Good times.