WHAT IS EROTIC?
What makes a photograph erotic? Ralph Gibson says that he has often made efforts to express eroticism because he is fascinated by it, yet as he puts it : “sex doesn’t look the way it feels, and therein lies the problem”. He adds: “It has been said that what one likes to see is called erotica and what one doesn’t like is called pornography”.
My fascination lies with those images that are so called “Erotic Art” by some, yet can easily be dismissed as “pornographic” by others. There is often only a fine line between the two and choosing a side becomes a matter of the individual viewer’s sensibility. I am interested in making the sort of photographs sit on the line. I wish to push viewers to cross over the boundary between these two sides. I hope to stimulate both their aesthetic sensibility as well as their voyeuristic side.
When looking at my photographs, the viewer inadvertently gets pulled-in to become my accomplice and joins me in re-enacting the voyeuristic deed of peeping through my viewfinder. The viewer’s imagination is stirred and like any voyeur, the viewer’s eye becomes a hand, it wants to caress every curve to touch the skin, to feel the warmth.
In my view, a photograph does not necessarily have to be vulgar or obvious in order for it to be erotic. Some photographs can be erotic in a very subtle and beautiful way. These are the most difficult to achieve. I have attempted to do this in some of the works. Surely the un-trained eye of a non-voyeur may entirely miss it, hence the word “Esoteric” in the title meaning a know-how which is privy to the initiated few, those voyeurs par excellence!
The act of photographing a beautiful woman in the nude is in itself highly charged with eroticism. The fact that the photographer and the model have agreed some time before hand and are both consenting to do the shoot in the privacy of the studio also has connotations of sex. As she disrobes and takes her place under the lights, she becomes the focal point. The ritualistic and constant staring, like some sort of worship, elevates her to goddess status. There is no denying it, even though it is no sexual act involved, it has all the makings of one.
What is erotica and why do I make this type of photographs? Because I love these images, because it makes me feel alive, because I love the female form and the feminity it represents. To put it in the words of Aldo Fallai: “If I should find the answer to ‘What is erotic?’ at that moment there wouldn’t be any need to tale pictures. At last”.
ABOUT THE IMAGES
This series of photographs were made in Tokyo and Hong Kong between February 1999 and August 2000.
All the photographs were taken on Polaroid type 55 and 665 positive/negative film. They were printed on a special photographic coated paper with a rough texture like those used by artists to make charcoal drawings. The prints were selenium toned and archivally processed.
These photographs were exhibited in a solo exhibition in Hong Kong in 2000. Select images have also been exhibited in group shows in Tokyo (1999), Toronto (December 2000) and Hong Kong (2005).