Laurent Benaim – Untitled (2018)
It’s interesting to me what people accept regarding the aestheticization inherent in most mainstream pornography. That the cute college coed is going to answer the door in her robe, see the muscly stud with a pizza and be immediate DTF? That everyone who fucks does so in opulent but ultimately either nearly empty or decorated without any discernible sense of form or function, without a single trace of any sort of shadow anywhere in the scene? That the only people who fuck are perfectly depilated without a trace of body fat?
The general motif is that if it distracts from the fantasy, it should be diminished or eliminated. But just as the best lies are sown in the same furrow as truth, so I think that the reality of depicting sexuality is that if your fantasy has an correlation with reality, an aesthetic that eschews the aesthetics of perfection is probably the better option.
This image is downright ugly–looking more like a photocopy of a photocopy that has been darkened to compensate for the first layer of generation loss. But it really does work better for that. You can’t so much focus on the pretty picture so you instead have to embrace what’s being depicted to engage with the picture.
And I can’t tell which part of this I like better: the self-aware way the model is staring directly into the camera or the discrepancy between the way her ankle in those stiletto heels is wrapped in light or the way you can only see the other woman’s breast by imagining what’s in between her breast and the cast shadow.
Laurent Benaim – Title unknown (2015)
I do not believe home
is where we’re born, or the place we grew up, not a birthright or an
inheritance, not a name, or blood or country. It is not even the soft
part that hurts when touched, that defines our loneliness the way a bowl
defines water. It will not be located in a smell or taste or talisman
or a word…
Home is our first real mistake. It is the one error that changes
everything, the one lesson you could let destroy you. It is from this
moment that we begin to build our home in the world. It is this place
that we furnish with smell, taste, a talisman, a name.
—Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault
Laurent Benaim – Title Unknown (20XX)
This is an ambitious photo. Nine people–five men, two women and two others of indeterminate gender beyond the frame edge boundary–focused on pleasing one woman.
There are two prominent compositional strategies working here:
First, the image can essentially be divided along a diagonal axis (lower left to upper right); this renders a dark side (upper left) and light side (lower right); within this there is, of course, a sort of yin and yang where light portions in the dark half and vice versa more or less balance each other out.
Second, since any three non-co-linear points can form a vertices of a triangle, heads–and to a lesser extent limbs–imply suggested re-framings.
You’ll note that these implicit triangles favor directing the viewers gaze to what’s happening between her legs as opposed to emphasizing the expression on her face–which appears strangely resigned to the proceedings.
I almost want to give credit for effort seeing as how within this triangulation there is a calculated inversion of the light and dark that over-arches the composition–the dark hair vs bright faces and how this shuttles the gaze around the photo.
However, the angular dynamics are undercut by the fact that the frame is essentially centered on the woman’s crotch. (A slightly wider angle of view or a shift in frame that centered on either the woman kissing her left thigh or her right knee would make this more logical consistent.)
Yet, despite the fact that looking at this too long makes my pubococcygeus muscle clench because of the visual overstimulation, I do really like that fact that although this is explicit, it isn’t graphic; there is no visible private bits.
And I do really love the way the woman in the upper half of the frame has latched onto the main woman’s nipple while just to her left someone out of frame has the main woman’s wrist pinned to the floor.