Mathilda Eberhard – [←] ** (2010); [→] * (2010)

Whatever Eberhard lacks in polish, she more than makes up for with her audacity.

Apologies if this is a repetition of a previous persnickety and pedantically harped upon point–however, I am presently too inebriated to be able to figure out how to navigate out of this post and onto my blog to check whether I’m remember on of innumerable discarded drafts (there have been a lot more of those than usual lately, alas) or if it’s just something I thought about addressing and then just couldn’t figure out how to fit it all to words…

Anyway, during the nightmare hellscape that were MFA applications, I thought a lot about why I am drawn to the implications of narrativity much as the magnetized tip of the steel needle finds north on the face of a compass.

On the surface, I am intrigued by the power of stories. People can love you because of and through a well-told tale. Stories can connect people. Yet, the can also be used as Trojan Horses secreting ideological payloads.

My time as a film making student taught me that I might not be as great at judging the merit or lack thereof as far as those sorts of payloads.

I asked myself what would be involved in implying the entirety of a story with a single, static frame?

There are really two reliable ways to do this:

  1. Illustrate a story that is uber familiar to your audience
  2. Or, stage a tableau that allows for a familiar dramatic scenario (Pathos).

The former is the terrain of Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus; the latter: Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window.

Both require being relate-able–a less direct way of saying looking to what has come before. This leads to the sort of work where being lesbian or trans is just another character trait… like born in Louisville, KY, Gay, really likes kabob, etc. as opposed to a wholistic aspect of and projection from the character’s self.

And what we’re finding out is that it’s a lie that our love is only recognizable in the way it mirrors straight love. But we have our own language, or own deeply incised pathos and when you see them you–if you are capable of love–see them too and they mean the same to you.

Eberhard was really far ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. She’s challenging the limits of what pathos allows for in the most fantastic ways.

I haven’t seen any new work of hers in almost half-a-decade. She has an instagram–but it’s private. I would do just about anything to know what she’s up to these days. (She is in the top three on my lists of artists I would do just about anything to facilitate.)

If anyone reading this maybe knows her and could help a super fangirl out it would be supes appreciated.

K Thnx Bye.

Mariela AngelaPear Tarts, Melbourne, Australia (2014)

I have this irritating habit of becoming obsessed to the point of hysteria with certain photos/image and/or photographers/image makers. Above is the latest in a long line.

It started off with Kim Eliot Fung. Continued when I stumbled onto Lynn Kazstanovics’ brillaint work. Again, same with Mathilda Eberhard– seriously tho, if any of you knows Mathilda or could pass a message to her from me, please get in touch. See also: k.flight, Alison Barnes and Sannah Kvist. (I have reason to believe that Mathilda and Sannah are acquainted. But again, I’ve contacted Sannah twice with no response and so anything further seems a bit too close to harassment.)

Anyway, I’ve actually interacted with half of these people. Lynn and I are friends. Kim and k.flight were much more cagey. I both cases part of my interest in them was the way their work seemed to spring fully formed from an internet persona that was almost wraith like in it’s enigmatic as it’s presence as an exercise in absence. Like I still don’t have the first fucking clue who either Kim or k.flight are and I’ve met Kim in person once and k.flight and I were planning to collaborate on something.

The point of all the preamble is that I know absolutely nothing about Mariela Angela except that the above image was made with the camera on a mobile phone. (I know. I’m with you but it’s legit.)

She won an award the previous year for a photo called The Waitress Viola. Again, made with a mobile device and staggeringly well thought out and executed.

She has an Instagram, but it’s private. (Also: fuck Instagram.) Still, if anyone knows more about her and her work, I’d be over-the-moon for more info. The two images I’ve seen of hers are fucking exceptional.

Igor PjörrtSelf-Portrait (2017)

Pjörrt is unnervingly good at what he does.

I have compared his work to Lina Scheynius before but this makes it clear that while it’s easy to see how one could make that association, he’s really been working in rather the opposite direction.

Everything about this screams passionate Caravaggio homage.

I mean the argument holds up to scrutiny if you only consider Pjörrt‘s use of red and his clear favoring of tenebrism. But to my eye the above image is exactly what I picture in my head when I think of Caravaggio’s paintings–something exactly halfway between the later version of Boy Bitten by a Lizard and Boy with a Basket of Fruit.

Alessandro Ruiz – Untitled (201X)

I think spending approximately 25 hours a week keeping this blog running has perhaps warped my brain to a greater or lesser extent–you know kind of like that joke Bill Murray tells in What About Bob?

Bob Wiley:
[telling a joke]
The doctor draws two circles and says “What do you see?” the guy says “Sex.”

[everybody laughs]

Bob Wiley:
Wait a minute, I haven’t even told the joke yet! So the doctor draws
trees, “What do you see?” the guy says “sex”. The doctor draws a car,
owl, “Sex, sex, sex”. The doctor says to him “You are obsessed with
sex”, he replies “Well you’re the one drawing all the dirty pictures!”

Like I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be looking at something and be like wait, is that what I think it is? (It almost never is what I’m thinking, unless I’m on Tumblr and then it’s usually worse than I thought it was.)

Like with the mussed hair and pose and position of the hand above, there’s something both suggestive of masturbation and self-conscious demurring. (I can’t ascertain if Ruiz continues to have a web presence outside Model Mayhem but his work suggests that either of these readings–at a minimum–fit his works’ comportment towards eroticism.

If I were feeling pedantic I might draw a comparison between Ruiz and Erotobot–the latter is technically the superior image maker in sum but it’s a question of carefully considered composition vs. visceral immediacy. (I prefer both in tandem but since you rarely find that, I tend to favor the latter over the former.)

But while I don’t agree with the composition of this image–I do like her against the dense black background, I’d just have framed it wider than this. It did actually make me question something; namely: the notion of demureness as it pertains to social expectations placed upon women.

I’m thinking here about the religious notion I was raised with wherein the body/flesh is the locus of sin and therefore the genesis point of shame. I mean as far back as The Creation myth we see that Eve is tempted by the snake, she in turn tempts Adam and then they realize they are naked and try to cover themselves.

And it occurs to me that in the art historical, phalleocentric history of art there is a tendency to conflate a post-orgasmic languor in much the same fashion as what is the expected behavior of the properly demure.

I’m also curious as to the restraint in this image with regards to graphically explicit presentation vis-a-vis the rest of the work.

Not sure if pressed I could prove this thesis but it’s what I’m thinking about at the moment, fwiw.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I’m going to attempt to coin a hybrid word: demi-sequitur. (And yes, I realize I could just use medium sequitur but conjugation will always be the part of language learning with which I struggle–and since I’m not in the mood for some snarky classics major (E.D., all classics majors are snarky af), I’m just going to opt not to conjugate and instead invent a hybrid word.

Anyway, if you’ll excuse my coining a hybrid word, Imma get back to this image but first I need to indulge a bit of demi-sequitur exposition.

One of the struggles I have with writing is sorting through a constant barrage of information in my head.

It’s not without use to think of it a bit like this. You’re in a store, purchasing a toasted bagel with scallion cream cheese and tomato. The cashier plugs your order into the register and tells you that your total is: $3.87; behind her someone scurries to shove a bagel into one of those toaster ovens with a metal grill conveyor belt.

You open your wallet and realize you only have $3 ones and it’s NYC, so get bent trying to get them to let you charge anything under $5. You turn to your friend and are like, hey, can I borrow a dollar.

But instead of them extracting their wallet and handing you a one or four quarters, they reach into their pocket and pull out a handful of change and throw it directly into your face. It scatters on the counter, shelves containing chewing gum and candy bars.

There’s a long line of people behind you and, the cashier is impatiently waiting for you to pay but you’ve gotta pick all the change up at some point so while it would make more sense to look for zinc plated change as opposed to copper, you just have to get all of it. (Trying to count as you go.)

Every moment my senses are not impaired, deranged or otherwise altered feels like trying to count out change from a handful of coins that have been tossed at velocity directly into my face.

A practical example: I was with a friend in a grocery store. We’d gone in to purchase beer. I was carrying a 6 pack, she was carrying a 6 pack. We were standing in the express 12 items or less line. Being in NYC, it was a very small space. You had to be careful to not knock over the snaking lane dividers that keep everyone in an orderly line. The loudspeakers were blaring Maroon 5 or some other intolerable pop fodder. There are people everywhere. Standing, talking on phones, chatting with others. Elbows, glasses, ironic facial hair, colors, textures–all of it registering, demanding focused attention.

My friend started kicking me in the shin. I did my best to keep my voice level but she was offended by my tone. See to her, she felt bored and under stimulated, so she did that to help distract herself. Whereas the kick to my shins was the stimulus that broke the camel’s spine.

I flew out to Los Angeles on Feb. 15th.

I love the food and climate in L.A. I detest everything else about the place. But as someone trying to cultivate a patina of legitimacy w/r/t my fine art photographic aspirations, I end up out there a couple times every year.

Also, I have friends there. Two amazing models: Marissa Lynn & Kathleen Truffaut (who I was able to collaborate with), as well as a friend from my time as an undergraduate.

My college friend is having a really difficult time. An ex recently pulled some of the classic cishet male bullshit where he was like I dumped you and my life without isn’t working out how I planned so I’m gonna make you feel like shit to feel better about myself. Also, her beloved pet Boston terrier is having pretty serious health issues.

So the trip was a good bit heavier than I anticipated as far as emotional labor and needing to be responsible/supportive.

The point is when I headed up to Oakland on Feb. 21st, I came down with whatever the fuck upper respiratory BS is going around out there at the moment.

Now–to put forward a crucial piece of information I’ve been withholding–my friend Amandine lives out there. And really: while, yes, I did go to L.A. to see my college friend, eat some of the best food in the damn country and work with amazing models, I mostly went to spend time with Amandine.

I was running a 102 fever when I woke up on Feb. 22nd.

Add to that my office–which wasn’t supposed to contact me during this leg of the trip–blew up my phone because one of our senior analysts thought his personal laptop had been infected with ransomware.

It wasn’t an especially great space to occupy–being extremely ill, being insanely stressed, not to mention anxious about the will-they-or-won’t-they questions with regard to the mutual and insanely complicated feelings between Amandine and I.

Confession: I’m growing increasingly put off by–it’s probably fair to say–most of the porn that crosses my Tumblr dash. It’s not that the production value is lacking. (I actually have an upcoming post on how a certain subset of porn displays a fetishization of quality that is both consistent and remarkably aestheticized.

And, yeah full disclosure I’m not super into heteronormative porn. So that means 90% of the stuff crossing my dash isn’t ‘made’ for me.

But things like this just seem repetitive, mechanical and focused on orgasmic release. (I do like that he kisses her after she sucks on him post-orgasm–there is nothing in the world like kissing your partner(s) post coitally and tasting your orgasmic juices mixed with theirs.. the taste is freaking intoxicating.)

On the other hand I do have a backlog of threesome/group sex stuff that I love and have been struggling over how to feature in a contemplative fashion. For example: this gif of three studs masturbating in a triangular form, one who has already orgasmed while a second boy ejaculates with impressive force while the third watches both his friends; this vintage image of an FFM threesome outdoors; this von Trier-esque image that vextape reblogged a while back; a lot of FMM stuff (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), FFM stuff (1, 2, 3). Want FFF? I can point you in the direction of one. MMM? Don’t mind if I do. FMMM, I even have one of those. All female orgy? Aren’t you glad you asked?

I feel like once you move beyond the strict binary interpretations of physical intimacy, things automatically become more sensual. I mean that’s my experience, yes. But also, from a strictly pragmatic perspective, it has to. I mean, yeah, if you’re, 22 and having mad group sex, it’s probably cool. You can get off again and again and again without much muss or fuss.

As you get older, your body changes–late 20s are amazing, late 30s–meh. I’m not to my late 40s yet, but yeah… I’m banging on that door and I do not like how things are sounding from behind it.

That means that you learn to become a little like someone who is going with friends to dim sum. You know not to fill up on just one item–you want to try a bit of everything. But you really like this dish and those dumplings, so you over eat a bit but you also get to try everything. It’s about the different tastes/flavors but also a bit of discipline allows you to walk away feeling fully satisfied.

So I’m in Oakland. I have a 102 and change fever. I feel like death. My stress and anxiety is through the roof. Everything feels like it’s falling apart and I’m supposed to hang out with Amandine for part of a day so that we can catch up and clear the air.

See Amandine is only the third person in my life who I’ve ever been like I have feelings for you and the person’s response has been anything other than no, run away. She basically said: I feel the same. It scares the crap out of me and I wanted to run away, I even tried, but I can’t; there is too much here that I want to explore. We just need to move slow. This is new for me. I know what I want but I need to figure out how to reconcile what I want with the life I’ve made for myself.

I somehow managed through sheer force of will to be more or less operating at 85% that day. I was still definitely under the weather but I managed it so that she hardly noticed.

We had a fancy breakfast. Talked about her art. How things are going with my suicidal ex. In the process of updating her, I realized for the first time that we’re not taking a break like she’s said–that even if she were willing to discuss all the shit that’s transpired between us that I’m fundamentally unconvinced that what we have is worth the hell it will require walking through for months to work things out. Amandine held my hand while I sat at the table and openly wept; she said, you’ll figure out how to be fine again. It’s going to take a while. Longer than you think. It’s going to be hard. But you won’t have to do it alone this time.

We went for a hike. Saw an egret and snapping turtles. Then had coffee at a snooty cafe in Oakland.

We got ready to part ways. I told her that she was one of the most amazing, kind and radically empathetic people I had ever known and that I was in love with her. She said, I know. I’m just hoping that you know you are all of those things just as much as I am. I said I know. She said: and I love you, too.

I walked her to her car. She hugged me. It was quick, perfunctory. Guarded.

I think she thought I was going to cling to her. And that’s not an inaccurate premonition. I wanted to. But I didn’t. And I think that surprised her. (I can occasionally be self-possessed enough not to shoot myself in the foot several times every day.)

She returned to me and wrapped her arms around me again. She pressed the curve of her midline body mass into mine. Pulling me toward her that were her arms positioned differently, would’ve knocked the wind out of me. I stroked the back of her Guatemalan sack dress, could feel that underneath she wasn’t wearing a bra, just a cotton shift. She held me tighter. I could feel her muscles straining over her bones. As if she was trying to fuse her soul with mine.

She let go and looked at me. Then turned and walked to her car. I said, wait a second. She turned and I made a show of kissing my finger tips and them touched them to her forehead. She giggled, hiding her smile behind her hands and angling her face downward. In that moment, I warned with all the constant influx of information I suffer under, why I couldn’t stop time and memorize every single one of those marvelous laugh lines that wrinkled up her young face like an old newspaper balled up for kindling, spared at the last minute, unfolded and pressed flat against a table top.

You honestly deserve a medal if you’ve read this far.

I said I’d get back to the image and I plan to. But I feel like now, I don’t need to explain it to you. I feel if you bothered with all this you’ll understand why when I look at this I can see past it’s short comings: the over exposure, the flatness of space, the fact that the genders presented don’t actually match Amandine or my own.

But it’s profoundly relate-able because I can’t think about it without thinking of how it felt to hold someone like that for the first time in my life.

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.