Emma HardyPersonal (Date Unknown)

I want to talk about this photo over drinks into the wee hours– it’s really, really exceptional.

Trouble is, I’m having on of those every-idea-seems-inspired-until-I-put-it-to-words-and-everything-turns-straight-to-shit sort of days.

Also, part of the problem may be every time I look at this, I flashback to being 11 or 12 and chasing Hannah around the corner of my grandparents house in Vermont.

Hannah, is a year and a half my junior. I’ve always thought of her as a tomboy–able to easily outrun even my older athletic cousins. The only thing I can do better is scurrying up trees and she’s always grudgingly appreciated that fact.

I’m chasing her but I’m hyper aware of color: her white bare feet, green-green grass, light-weight lavender sundress fluttering around the flesh-tone blur of her pumping knees; a long wake of brown-blond hair trailing behind her.

I’m too far behind to catch her and as if she’s read my mind, she smiles over her shoulder mischievously.

She stretched her arms over her head, splaying her blue lacquered nails against the summery sky. Her step stutters; her body pitching forward.

Her body follows her arms. I notice her toes are painted the same color as her nails a second before I’m staring at her underwear–cornflower blue trimmed with cadmium yellow.

It’s not that I’m trying to look up her dress, there’s just nowhere else to look. I am suddenly painfully aroused.

Her dress slips as she nears the apex of her flip, turns inside out and falls down around her chest.

She floats there for a split second–it feels as if we are both floating outside time. There’s orange sun on pale skin, cornflower blue and cadmium yellow.

She pushes herself to keep momentum and is on her feet again, looking back at me–her cheeks reddening a little (as if her mom has already impressed upon her the importance of being lady-like and not showing boys her underwear).

But I can tell she’s only embarrassed because she is supposed to be ashamed and simply isn’t.

She waits until I am almost within reach before she bolts again. Glancing back only long enough to ensure I’m still following her.


Mathieu Vladimir AlliardNicole Pollard (2013)

Such editorial-fashion portraiture is not my cuppa Joe. This though, I can’t get out of my goddamn head.

It’s the asymmetrical picked at nailpolish on her right thumb, the textured trim on her knickers, the way the light makes her hipbones look uneven, the mole above her navel, the contrast between the cream color of her bra against the sickly white of her skin somehow balancing against the dark background to create a strange vibrancy.

But it’s really the strangely intense blue-eyed stare somewhere between knowing, asking and boredom that is most captivating. I do not know what Ms. Pollard is thinking but I really, really, really would love to know.

Expressions are what elevates Alliard’s work above the paint-by-numbers editorial-fashion crap. His sitters usually appear edgily defiant and half feral.

A similar mien shows up in Ms. Pollard’s work. It’s less overt but she appears matter-of-fact, in control and as if she is prepared to give it to you with both barrels if anyone so much as thinks about giving her shit.

Somehow what Alliard customarily seeks and what Pollard offers, cancel each other out here. In the resulting void, something unexpected happens.

The single substantial criticism I have is #skinnyframebullshit. The only compositional logic governing the use of a vertical frame is to facilitate slimming–which is unnecessary and fucking stupid. Ms. Pollard is quite gorgeous but she’s fucking skinny. The bra straps hanging off her shoulders accomplish the desired purpose well-enough and do not require backup. Not to mention, the image would been moodier for landscape orientation as well as adding weight to the oddness of the expression.


andrea margaret

Margaret has made work with a veritable a who’s-who of Tumblr image makers: Darren Ankenman, Babak Ghaemian, Todd Hido, Brittany Market, Megan Sample, Erica Shires (whose work is INCREDIBLE), Art T (aka Creative Rehab) & Chip Willis.

Her appeal is understandable: she effortlessly shifts between ingenue, coquette, muse and provocateur. Yet, the shift is not so much like donning a mask as assuming an entirely new identity.

A desirable knack, certainly, but what further distinguishes her work is the fiercely assertive, in-your-face independence that shimmers just below the surface. Andrea Margaret can appear disdainful, bored, playful–often all at once–but it is always evidently she’ll tolerate no sort of foolywang whatsoever.

That’s what makes this picture stand out to me; it’s a self-portrait (as far as I can tell) with a severely limited dynamic range suggestive of a low-end digital rig–an iPhone 4, if I was forced to guess. It’s hell of muddy; but not in a someone tracked-mud-onto-the-floor-you-just-mopped way, in a simpering Delta blues way.

Here, Margaret seems less overtly confrontational. Instead, her provocation is cut with an aching, frustrated determination, perhaps some loneliness as well.

Quite nice, really.



Approximately 65% of my sexual pleasure arises from orgasming. The remaining 35% is determined by what occurs afterward.

Closeness and cuddling are wonderful but I need more before that, something which demands more than I think I can withstand.

I am not necessarily talking so-called post-orgasm torture—though if that’s on the table, I won’t object. No, I crave something and more gently insistent; stimulation which recognizes and respects my heightened state of post-ejaculatory sensitivity while dismissing the notion that there can be such a thing as ‘too sensitive’.

Alas, this is not something I achieve alone—past a point, my nervous system short circuits and my body locks up.

Being alone for the last four years has caused me to seek out the vaguest hints of the same pleasure overflowing into pain, requiring complete surrender to overwhelming physical sensation.

This is a Polaroid of me—holding my ex’s panties stilling bear the marks of her former longing with which I sometimes in an Icarus like attempt to remembered some shadow of the glory arising from responding involuntarily to touch as if shivering in a desperately cold draft.

I feel like this submission would work really great in an art gallery, the photo is beautiful and touching. And the write up sounds more like an essay than a poem or message. Thanks for your submission dude I really fucking like this one and am proud to have it a part of SS. 


cutter painties – Copyright © Græ Andresen




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A former flat mate—who despite being super rainforest crunch is still a friend—claims all conflicts arise as a result of unmet needs.

I chalked it up to hippy naiveté. And I would have dismissed it outright if not for the implicit critique of what qualifies as need.

Needs, to her, included the basics: food, water, shelter and clothing as well as safety, fulfillment and love. She argued being alone or unfulfilled in life causes suffering no more or less physically debilitating than hunger or thirst.

Of course, she went on to use the notion as an aide in unpacking geopolitical concerns—an at best reductive approach—which resulted in me dismissing the idea.

I’ve been re-evaluating that decision. It’s partly as a result of learning that in a month I’ll be laid off from perhaps the only job I haven’t utterly reviled. And the one thing making me not despise this job was learning first hand that I was dead wrong to dismiss my friend’s ideas because when it comes to interpersonal relationships in small groups/communities are concerned, meeting or failing to meet individual needs makes all the difference in the world.

Thus, all this messy brain spew gets entangled with this image. 

I can’t claim to be a cutter. On the other hand, claiming I have never cut myself seems a more egregious mistruth. I look at the few small scars that have yet to fade and they do not seem like they belong to me. I never cut to see myself bleed or to feel anything, I cut because in those trance-like moments there was a very real feeling that I was cutting through my body in order to reach something I wanted to destroy with the totality of my being.

It’s the strangest things to feel nothing when presented with my own case; yet, when faced with a cartographic account of similar travels, I ascribe meaning ex nihilo: maplines of unmet needs.

I identify with everything in this image. The clenched fists self-restrained, tightly cinched and pinned by panty elastic to her hips. The three day stubbly growth on the mons pubis—an outward effort to adhere to perceived norms.

There’s further resonance for me: yesterday, I left my desk to wander the deserted world where I work. With all the doors propped open I wondered in an out of buildings. I wasn’t aware that I’d had any destination in mind until I found myself standing in the doorway of the now empty room where the young woman upon whom I have a crush slept, woke and struggled over the nine months. 

All that remained was a silica gel pack against the baseboard, a small sheet of cream cardstock gatefolded with different flavors of tea printed on each section, the corner of a blue and white Nestlé plastic wrapper, a few pennies scattered among a litter of baby dust bunnies. Fingernail clippings on the desk and bureau; sequins and a Bobbie pin in otherwise empty drawers. Three or four Kleenex in a CVS pocket pack behind the mirrored medicine cabinet door above the commode and thin white bar waiting in the shower soap dish.

Presence in absence, it’s the obverse are I’ve known for so long—I no longer cut my body, no longer want to destroy, I just want to break through to reach someone, anyone, to touch and in the moment give a portion of what was given to me back to you.

Honestly, I couldn’t give less of a fuck about the rest of the images in this series or the other visual output by Damien “Elroy” Vignaux; there is definitely something special about this one image, though.

I’ve seen lots of other shots like this but never in such dying light with attitudes of come hither sexy and coy, aloofness (or it could be resignation– today has not be the best w/r/t my ability to match words appropriately with contexts).

It also illustrates another point close to my heart–in the age of mass proliferation of visual culture, cyber bullying and revenge porn, there are certainly people who want to and should be able to post nude selfies and maintain some sense (which is probably nothing but a delusion) of anonymity. To that end, people shoot themselves from the neck down, producing garishly decapitated images. But seriously there are any number of ways to exclude your face from the visual field of the frame while keeping your body intact. This is one of the most creative examples I’ve ever encountered.

Those who peruse what I write will be aware of how much I loathe fucking gratuitous/illogical use of portrait orientation.

I never tire of calling that bullshit out. But, for the sake of avoiding redundancy and not beating a dead horse on the subject, I am going to henceforth distill these criticisms to a pithy hash tag: #skinnyframebullshit.

#skinnyframebullshit should be applied here. Further, the awkwardness is compounded by the top frame line’s amputate the young woman’s legs. (And if one was inclined toward hair splitting: an argument can be made that with the angle of light it would’ve been preferable to swap the position of her head and feet.)

Even with these shortcomings, I dig this image a lot. Mainly because it dodges the usual questions of subject/object and exhibitionism/voyeurism back loaded into visual depictions of masturbation. It has the sort of masturbation as punk rock/do it yrself sex positive vibe I adore.