Nawa-ArtErika Yukio (1961)

It’s difficult to untangle all the various threads with this–largely because I read zero Japanese; also: it’s weird to me that while translations for Romance languages via Google Translate have improved marked over the last three years, it’s still only the babiest step above word salad for ideogrammatic languages. (I know ideogram is not technically the right term but I can’t think of the right term at the moment–I’m essentially pointing to the way romance languages group characters that make particular sounds in particular situations into words which name things, convey concepts, etc. vs. languages consisting of characters which a vaguely pictorial and convey concepts, i.e. Mandarin and Japanese; although it seems to me that kanji is maybe intended to be closer to the an alphabet? Don’t quote me on any of this–linguistics is one field where I will readily admit a complete absence of any sort of even baseline understanding.)

Anyway, as best as I can tell: Nawa Art is a site where someone–who seems not to want to be viewed as a collector–has archived pornographic BDSM materials that are apparently from brochures disseminated via a secret club in Japan circa 196X.

None of it is even half as edgy as what your average kink-focused Tumblr curator includes on the reg. But to my naive eye–it’s fascinating to consider the effect such material likely had in shaping the overarching vision of someone like Araki.

I really appreciate the presentation of this–there’s a physicality to it: the four holes at the right margin (seemingly from two staples), the way that it both simultaneously seems xeroxed + the way that the strips of black and white (in concert with the thin margin between the images) makes the photos appear three dimensionally stacked; additionally, I really dig the simplicity of the layout–the top half mirrors the bottom half with only a horizontal mirroring (the black and white strips makes it seem far more complicated than that but it’s actually a solid tact for making something simple look more complicated than it really is–good design usually flips that script; however, it can be used to strong effect if it’s used sparingly and in a conceptually resonate fashion).

Two other observations concerning layout: not how the upper left and bottom right image are connected by the inclusion of the dark ribbon looped around her neck, whereas the top right and bottom left are both square (vs. rectangular) and were almost certainly taken in sequence; there’s also the way what appears to be the drain of a bathtub behind Erika Yukio’s head in the top right, top left and lower right frame managed to break up what would’ve been a cloying repetition of fours (staple perforations + photos).

The other thing about this that appeals to me is that as put off as I am by mainstream porn of any kind–I am especially put off by depictions of BDSM in pornography. There is–in my experience–this fixation on both extremity and humiliation that just doesn’t appeal to me personally. (I’m not about to kink shame anyone though–you do you and know that as long as you have the utmost respect for consent; then I support your kinks).

I think it’s because I grew up in such a repressive community that I really don’t enjoy being made to feel dirty about physicality–I struggle with that enough already. But it’s more complicated than that, honestly; as much as I’m not at all into humiliation, testing boundaries is something that I crave.

I think that’s what I appreciate about this–there’s a sense of discomfit paired inextricably with a curiosity. That appeals to me greatly.

Nobuyoshi Araki – Untitled (1995)

This is almost certainly Araki referencing Hans Bellmer.

I am actually glad to see Bellmer getting some renewed attention. I’m seeing more of his work slide across my dashboard here. Also, @insideflesh did a cool photobook last year inspired by him.

I’ve also mentioned that I think Bellmer is really kind of an important figure given our current globalized socio-political shitstorm. I suggested that it might be a good exhibition notion to do a joint retrospective of his work alongside Ana Mendieta.

The plan is–knock on wood–to dedicate two weeks of posts to using this blog to stage such an exhibition. I can’t say when just yet. It’s slow going as much of the scholarship is heavily coded in Freud’s BS. But I’m about a 1/3 of the way through preliminary research on Bellmer. And then it’ll be on to Mendieta–on whom there is far less scholarly material.

Anyway–something to keep an eye out for down the line.

Anna Reivilä – [↖] Bond #1 (2014); [↑] Bond #2 (2014); [↗] Bond #3 (2014); [+] Bond #5 (2015); [↙] Bond #8 (2014) ; [↘] Bond #13 (2106); [↓] Bond #21 (2016)

Artist Statement:

According to Japanese religious ceremonies, ropes and ties symbolize
the connections among people and the divine, as a mean to identify
sacred space and time.

Inspired by Nobuyoshi Araki’s images and their mixture of raw
violence and beauty, I study the relationship between man and nature by
referring to the Japanese bondage tradition. The Japanese word for
bondage, kinbaku, literally means “the beauty of tight binding”. It is a
delicate balance between being held together and being on the verge of
breaking.

I search spaces where nature’s elements combine to create interesting
natural tensions and continue this dialogue trough [sic] my interpretations
by extending, wrapping and pulling upon these indigenous forms. I create
a new sense of volume from the existing components.

Using ropes as lines is my form of drawing. The lines create
interactions, making connections between the elements—a reinterpretation
of the landscape. These three-dimensional drawings are physically
unstable—they exist only for the moment. By recording the process the
photograph becomes part of the piece.

Robert Smithson installed 12-inch-square mirrors to the site in his
project “Yucatan Mirror Displacements” 1969. The mirrors reflected and
refracted the surrounding environment and gave a new angle to see the
landscape. In a similar tradition of Smithson’s use of mirrors, my lines
show how shapes of the elements and the connections between them come
visible when something alien is added. I’m not only changing their
essence, but also my own point of view. Every space is different and I’m
interested how the volume of any given site can be stretched by the use
of several simple lines.

Source unknown – Title Unknown (19XX)

Excepting her face, the carpet and too a lesser extent the curtains, there’s almost no mid-tones to speak of here. Everything is bright white or deep shadow black–there’s enough of a hint of grey to insinuate the clavicle, differentiate her left hand from the background and keep things from going completely flat.

The black dress conceals her figure but the rope is enough to emphasize the curve of the body, imply a bust line.

The composition filters the gaze from the loop in the rope, to the hollow of her fist and then back to her vaguely dissociated expression–which is highly reminiscent of Renée Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Source: The first instance of this image seems to have been posted by Chelsea Lee. Another image from the same shoot, suggests it’s Ms. Lee with her wrists bound to her ankles here.

Right off, the murky exposure in concert with the positioning of the five women standing around Ms. Lee’s prone body vignette the frame in a way more than a little reminiscent of the Polaroids hidden away in a burnt out abandoned house littered with pornography a showed me back in back in junior high.

It reminds me of this image, too.

I could reiterate points made previously; however, looking at this I am realizing something about my relationship with BDSM imagery: when such imagery is divorced–as this is–from perform the expected heteronormative gender roles (male=dominant; female=submissive), I am rather fond of it.

In my experience, there is a vitality to being completely at the mercy of another. Yes, I prefer such experiences sans restraints. Yet, there is something about rope as a symbol enabling something of trust and surrender to be brought to bear on exchanges that might otherwise remain ambiguous.