Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

Although this doesn’t quite work there’s some great elements.

First off, I have a strong affinity for work which is ostensibly heteronormative but sublimates expectations. For example: most porn seems to operate from the principle that you shouldn’t see dick unless there’s a naked lady in the frame at the same time or a woman who although partial clothed is in some way interacting with the penis.

The positioning of the hands and the way they inform the rest of his pose reminds me of a Renaissance contrapposto sculpture. Also: the texture of the upholstery makes me think of those benches in national galleries.

The pattern of the tile and it’s alignment with the upholstery of the table is one of the reasons the composition more or less works–the eye scans left to right and the snaking chain attached to the shackle around his scrotum pulls the eye back across the image emphasizing the off kilter angle.

Overall all, as an image: it’s mostly strong enough to transcend the sloppy way his right ankle is chopped off at the ankle.

Robert MapplethorpeCock (1985)

Ever since the Venus of Willendorf or Lascaux paintings–or, as I refer to it, tongue-in-cheekily: prehistoric Instagram–visual art, as such, has been preoccupied with ontology of representation.

There has been–and as far as I’m concerned, continues to be–resistance to photography/image making as capital A Art. Although I am decidedly on the photography can absolutely be Art side of things, it does occur to me that there is a fundamental conceptual rift between other forms of visual art and photography; namely: painting, sculpture and architecture are arguably not primarily but intrinsically decorative, too.

Painting, sculpture and architecture proclaim look at this here in this specific place, i.e. the location of the canvas, the relationship of a sculptural object to its surroundings, architecture as the physical manifestion of space as decoration.

Photography/image making starts from the same impetus–the hey, look at this! exclamation. However, it does not have the same relationship with location in place, space and time. (Thus, I think, the fixation in fine art photography on conceptualization and installation–whether that be in a physical/virtual gallery or increasingly in the making of artists’ books.)

In a sense–presentation becomes part of what activates the photo/image as Art.

(I don’t have time to tease out the implications in this forum, but I do think it would make an excellent interrogation to expand this notion using Benjamin’s rt in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction viewed through the prism of @knitphilia‘s thesis on the deeply misogynistic history of distinguishing (and through distinction, diminishing) forms of creative expression normally associated with femme creators as ‘craft’–as opposed to ‘art’.)

Strangely, it was this thought that led me to a ‘discovery’ (of sorts) in the above photo It seems this was never something Mapplethorpe printed during his life. A print was made in 2010 and gifted by The Robert Mapplethorpe foundation to LACMA .

The digital print was clearly made by someone intimately familiar with Mapplethorpe’s work–the balance and interpenetration between highlights, mid-tones and shadows with the sort of atmospheric haze (sfumato) despite the razer sharp focus, couldn’t be more Mapplethorpe if it bore his signature.

Yet, knowing all that about the work there is still something about it that makes it Art–I think–even before it becomes physically instantiated: yes, the work (just like all visual art) says hey, look at this! and like all photography/imagery it (implicitly) states this is how I see this thing! Mapplethorpe takes things a step further and says: by looking at this it will be clear to you why I think this is beautiful should be appreciated.

Evgeny Mokhorev – [↖] Marina near the forest bath, Lagoda (2013); [↑] Anna (2016); [↗] ***, Baltic Sea (2017); [←] Anna and Yuri, Tichino, Italy (2015); [+] Katya, Kronstadt (2016); [→] Yuri and Anna, Tichino, Italy (2015); [↙] Alexandra (2010); [↓] Anna, Crimea (2015); [↘] Anastasia from The 26th Element series (2001)

I’ve featured Mokhorev’s work at least once before. (I’m almost positive it’s twice but since Tumblr now hides NSFW content blogs, I have to rely on my own tags to find anything. Alas, I haven’t always been vigilant with regards to tagging, so…)

In the 1990s, Mokhorev was focused on youth culture in St. Petersburg. It was a rather different species than the bohemian, hipster rock n roll rebellion of his compatriot Igor Mukhin; There’s none of the trappings of counter culture and things seem to prosaically orbit the fact that it’s one of the most heavily populated cities nearing the Arctic Circle. Winters are bitterly cold and summer is a time people revel in. As I understand it, getting blitzed on vodka, stripping down and swimming in the Neva is a fairly commonplace occurrence.

There’s a sort of feeling of everlasting summer, of primordial pagan sunworship to his work. It also frequently features folks unabashedly cavorting around in the buff.

Some of his earlier work was a bit disconcerting–frequently featuring nude pre-teens and teens. I’ve spent the morning revisiting his work and what impresses me is that although it is ostensibly interested in nudism, it avoids the trappings of the other two prominent artists interested in nudism, Mona Kuhn and Jock Sturges (in the case of the former, the works remain antisepctic and are less concerned with the conveyance of an sort of concept beyond a sort of idyllic reverie and instead pivot upon questions of form, representation of space and color; whereas Sturges is a perverted hack who dresses up his pedaphiliac ideation in the trappings of fine art legitimacy–I was at one time a fan of his work but increasingly it creeps me out and the work itself relies more on the perception of technical mastery, while demonstrating no such acumen in point of practice.)

I’ve been wary of his work before. Unlike Sturges, however, I have always been fond of it–and suspicious of that fondness. These images make me feel more justified in my admiration.

Here’s some things I noticed about his more recent work. [↑] bears more than a passing resemblance to Mark Steinmetz’s Jessica, Athens (1997); Steinmetz is objectively the better photo, but it feels as if Mokhorev only fell short because he was more ambitious in attempting to convey a similar feeling but also opening up the frame more. (I’d bet $20 that he’s very familiar with Steinmetz.) [↗] I like this because it’s a fundamentally intriguing image but also I’m curious what it is he’s holding and he looks a bit like a hedgehog; [+] between the watch on the necklace and the smoke stack behind her (which reminds me of the scene in Mark Romanek’s music video for // | /’s The Perfect Drug, where there’s a funerary urn that has crushed someone leaving only a pair of legs in riding breaches reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz; [↘] this might as well be channeling Rodchenko from beyond the beyond.

The last thing is a technical note. I am certain Mokhorev favors Ilford film stocks. And I am reasonably convinced he uses HP5 pretty much exclusively. While it is absolutely better than the comparable Delta 400 Pro–which is garbage, fwiw–it’s a finicky stock. It’s impressive that he’s getting these kind of results from it. Damn impressive actually. I’d have said that it wasn’t possible prior to seeing these. Also, another little known analog tidbit, there are subtle differences in the emulsion between different formats. The grain is usually more or less the same but there are differences in contrast, dynamic range and tonality. But the backing is always different–especially with Ilford. All the above are medium format except [↓], which is 4×5 sheet film–it’s possible this is not HP5 but in my experience 4×5 has a completely different feel to it than the 35 and 120 formulations of the same stock.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I think this video may be the porn clip that I have watched the most in my entire life.

Technically, it’s flawed. But the technical doesn’t matter so much when the sex is so thoroughly and legitimately haute.

From their seemingly coordinated ink: his Judge me, her Justice; to the inversion of the porn trope where the starlet furious rubs her clit while a muscle-bound stud uses his erect cock more like a gas powered chisel than a tool meant (among other things) for providing sexual pleasure; and–my personal favorite, the way she licks his semen off his tummy and then gives him a sample of the mess he’s made.

Unffff. (Also, this clip gave me a thought for a performance piece I’d like to enact at some point. I think it could be positively scandalous…)