Awesome work by NYC based Artist Damian Loeb
Archive for May, 2012
Linsay & Boyfriend: Pretty Backdoor Baby – Be our hero. Sign up to Photographer Brigham Field’s X-ART and you’ll be supporting Sex in Art at the same time.
Weart Festival Barcelona are calling out for entries, their theme this year is SEX. For more information visit www.weartfestival.com
VISUAL RESPONSE #06: NATIVE – some amazing entries, all inspired by the word “native”.
Charlie Kirk – “a 37-year-old English guy, working as a lawyer in Tokyo.”
Ivy : Dare To Dream – Be our hero. Sign up to Photographer Brigham Field’s X-ART and you’ll be supporting Sex in Art at the same time.
We interview American Photographer, Artist and Biologist Natacha Merritt. Hope you enjoy the read!
I picked up your Digital-Diaries book at my local art bookshop in 2000, at the time it was perhaps the most risqué book that Ariel Bookshop in Sydney sold. I had to own it, and felt almost nervous to pay for it over the counter. Back then it was the most ‘in your face’ book sitting on my bookshelf at home. It’s 2012 now and I think it’s still the most intimate and graphic book on my shelf. I’m curious as to what you think of Digital-Diaries in retrospect?
What a beautiful visual you gave me in that question formatting. Every time I look at it I am unabashedly ridiculously proud. I love those images. I look at digital diaries today and frankly I’m surprised at how risqué it still is. I thought, at the time it came out, “12 years from now this won’t seem risqué at all”. I honestly thought that puritanical values were surely going to become a thing of the past at that, in year 2000 we were at the dawn of a new Renaissance. Oops. I had no idea the Christian right was about to make such a violent comeback and start striping away women’s rights…. again. I really thought that my work would soon appear like a Botticelli or something like that, that it would not be shocking within a few years.
I thought Digital-Diaries worked so well as a book, from its stand out, jump off the bookshelf cover design through to it’s use of low resolution digital images in print. I’ve had a lot of friends simply not understand your work usually based off punching your name into Google and browsing images, which is a completely different experience to actually holding and browsing through the book. What are your thoughts on this?
The work is able to play off itself and tell stories in book format. The texts I write are just as important as the images. I realized this in working on my new book Sexual Selection. Even since Digital-diaries, after a brief membership site adventure, I mostly avoided posting images online. Although I was an early adopter of all digital technologies, my work breathes better in print format. At the moment I am working on a large scale fully immersive print collection that highlights the theme of my new book Sexual Selection.
I saw you speak at AGIdeas conference in Melbourne 2002, a conference which invites some of the world’s most established designers of multiple genres. How did that go down?
It was a fantastic experience. Honestly I’m not sure how or why they invited me to speak. Luckily I had just spoken at Ars electronica in Linz, and I was determined to be much more prepared and articulate. I remember while preparing for the talk, thinking to myself, wow, I haven’t “prepared” a presentation since high school. It was the first time I really sat down and thought about my process and its meaning in a larger context. I had up until that point been creating from a very introverted perspective.
At AGIdeas you raised and presented some defined definitions between pornography and art. Has your definition changed over the years? And do you find that some people still don’t get it? If so, how do you deal with the haters?
A definition I was proposing at the time was that porn comes from a place where people participating in it are doing it not out of choice but out of circumstance. Because they are not able to do anything else. I also used to think that if the person behind the lens -like myself-does whatever it is she is asking of the models, then it is not porn. Now my definition is more nuanced. As a woman I think that 99% of pornography is simply a lie. The women are lying and I think that most the men are too. It’s a self-perpetuating market place for lies. I think it’s sad that pornography in America is where adolescents get most of their sex education. I’m much more clear about my own work now. What it is and what it isn’t.
My images have never been porn everyone involved was proud to be there, and is proud of the final product. The fact that some of the images might turn someone on, or even inspire an orgasm is fantastic. Isn’t it strange that there are few present day artefacts that do this in our lives? I really believe that art has been hijacked by puritanical values. At least in the US, which has in turn impoverished our sex lives.
The only similarities between my art and pornography is that some my images explore sexuality, both in humans and in plants and insects.
At AGIdeas you presented some new work, to be a part of your next book, is that work a part of Sexual Selection or was that work intended fora book that was never released?
The “next book” you were referring to was never released. I think the images were/are strong but the story wasn’t mature yet. A few of those images made it into Sexual Selection. Digital-diaries, although shot in a few years took my entire short life (21 yrs) to really create. Sexual selection took 12 years. It’s really about having something meaningful to share with the world. Sexual Selection, my new book, is as much of an artistic journey as my first work. Whereas digital-diaries was the story of my won sex life and the early evolution of digital photography. My new book Sexual Selection is a journey through the science of selection. I reference the primary scientific literature while freely anthropmorphizing and writing about my own sexuality. The texts are a loose story that is the backbone for the photography.
Since Digital-Diaries, D-life and Zumanity (for Cirque du Soleil) you’ve become a Biologist and released your new book, Sexual Selection. What inspired you to return to higher education to study biology?
It took going back to school and obtaining a degree in biology to admit to myself that I was an artist. I am sure there were easier ways! But the reason I chose biology is that within biology and specifically evolutionary biology and genetics I was able to come closer to fully understanding why I was so drawn to making sexual art. From the day of my first botany class I was hooked. The natural world is endlessly more kinky and sexually creative than humans. I was also drawn to the non-subjective nature of science. Math, physics, chemistry is extremely exotic to me.
The concept of sexual selection was first introduced by Darwin in 1859, what’s your take on this concept?
My book Sexual Selection begins with an introduction by Richard Price followed by a quote by Darwin. Each chapter opened with a direct quote from the primary literature. the loose story is the evolution of Sexual Selection from Darwin’s era to today. I am fascinated by the fact that at the time that Darwin first suggested Sexual Selection as an evolutionary mechanism he had to justify that women could even make worthy choices at all. until I actually read a few of Darwin’s main works, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I am fascinated by the idea that what we know scientifically depends on the questions that researcher were able to ask. and these question are inevitable delineated by societal values. At first my text editor, an extremely progressive intellectual feminist (among other amazing attributes) was sceptical of the concept of Sexual Selection. She thought of it in terms of Eugenics and was worried that it was exclusionary towards non-reproductive sex. But as we progressed in putting the text together a different image emerged. Sexual Selection has evolved as a mirror image of the way science has evolved. Its become much more diversity affirming. Sex change, eusociality, cryptic female choice, sperm competition… All of these theories are part of Sexual Selection research today. In other words there are many many ways that species have found to reproduce. My art and my images celebrate that.
You can order your copy of Natacha’s new book SEXUAL SELECTION by visiting: http://shop.bongout.org/p-1450-sexual-selection-natacha-merritt.aspx