Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

… i read the review in AnOther magazine which i have been avoiding for days, largely because it was primal me that was interested in looking at it and i was trying to resist primal me… it surprised (disappointed?) me that it was not about the porn industry and was instead about societal attitudes towards sex and woman and largely about the polarization we are experiencing around the globe… i now want to watch it though with subtitles and it’s subject matter it will be a more difficult sell to H… a link to the trailer

Maria Popova, Women in Trees

(Maria Popova?) Oak-hopping in New Orleans, September 2020. (Photograph: Milène Lichtwarck.)

… about two books, Women in Trees, More Women in Trees, by Jochen Rains… a rare photograph of herself climbing through an oak tree… the subject of the books is a collection of photographs of women in trees… they are vintage and come from a time when it might have seemed unladylike to appear in trees… climbing trees is how so many children gain freedom from a world that is increasingly straightjacketing them… a freeing and adventurous thing to do in the confines of societal expectations, their neighborhoods, their schools… MP treats the act as a feminist gesture full of symbolism… from climbing trees to climbing corporate ladders is but the distance of a generation or two…

… on to Feedbin…

… Jonathan Blaustein wrote about his trip to Chicago this morning… i learn about Weedmaps.com, for the weed dispensary near you… i look up what might be near me and find that it’s all medical marijuana in NY… weed was recently legalized for recreational use too, but i imagine the state is still working out the regulations and how to enforce them…

… overall, JB reported on numerous pizza restaurants which seemed to be the only food they ate while in Chicago… i mean, who eats pizza all weekend long and doesn’t gain a few pounds doing it?… not me… not at this point in my life… i try to eat healthier than that…

… i review the work of Leonardo Magrelli, published on Aint-Bad, and think, ok, but not compelling… all black and white, city environment…

… i look over, read, Proud, Provocative Portraits That Celebrate Feminine Authenticity… a woman photographer and stylist pursuing a project called Girls… an area of interest as anyone reading this blog will know… yes, interested because of primal programming, but also interested in the subject of how women are presented in photoland… i am especially interested in cases where women photograph women in ways that will, whether intended or not, provoke the male gaze… this set of photographs provokes the male gaze and seems intended to…

Albertine Photography Guen Fiore, styling Rubina Vita Marchiori

 A new series by photographer Guen Fiore and stylist Rubina Vita Marchiori celebrates the fearless authenticity of Gen-Z women1

… the article tells us the women are photographed in their own homes (a safe environment)… the broad message, i will present myself as sexy if i want to, i am in control of that… a legitimate question to ask, does this promote women as much beyond being sex objects?… my answer, i am not sure… apparently there are photo sessions with each woman, that, presumably, lead to multiple images… are they all laced with sensuality?, showing the women in states of partial undress?… are they presented in any other way?… the artist’s instagram account suggests otherwise…

… i look at some of the comments on one post… that the women are “hot” is appreciated… the photographer has 34.5k followers… did they build that following with these images?… yes, almost all the images are attractive young women displaying their bodies in sensual, sexual ways… the following has been built on the fact that “sex sells,”…

… it think what bothers me is not that the women are presenting themselves sensually, sexually, but that it is a celebration of “fearless authenticity of Gen-Z women… only if women are to be defined by their sexuality… so the project tries to be high minded, but isn’t at all…


  1. Bruno, Gilda, Proud, Provocative Portraits That Celebrate Feminine Authenticity [return]

First Thoughts

… i am up at 3:30 AM… the effects of the daylight savings change… it will settle out, but i again ask why do we do this to ourselves?… an article on whether DST saves energy is inconclusive… it saves electricity consumed for lights, but may increase electricity and other fuels consumed to heat and cool… is it worth the disruption of sleep cycles?… can’t we find another way to adjust ourselves?… like start work an hour earlier and stop an hour earlier?… don’t most of us work 24/7 anyway?… aren’t more of us working from home now?…

… i read an article that suggests 45 is the odds-on favorite to win the presidency in 2024… dear god how is it possible?… bookmakers, please check your calculations again… i really don’t know what i will do if that happens…

… are we really being pushed to authoritarianism because it is more efficient?… were the Middle Ages really efficient for humankind?…

… an article discussing Texas law SB8… something about judicial immunity from law suits hampering the clear cut argument that the vigilante provisions of the law are a dangerous precedent that has the potential to undermine constitutional rights in a variety of ways… something about enjoining their clerks from working on enforcement of the law rather than judges… i didn’t completely understand…

… all of this on top of not feeling well… kind of tired… maybe it’s alcohol, though i don’t believe i overindulged last night… it does seem to sap me… just doesn’t agree with my system anymore?…

… started watching Rake, an Australian series featuring a rakish lawyer surrounded by a complex of beautiful, smart and accomplished women who frequently bare their breasts (along with the men in the show, but a man’s bare breast is way less interesting than a woman’s to me)…

… if i am honest, i am in it for the beautiful women characters who bare their breasts first, the story telling second… did i mention that the women characters are also smart and accomplished?…

… the story lines are interesting, the main characters all have redeeming virtues to balance their flaws, and there is a gamut of reasonably well rendered human complexity offered up… but denying i am powerfully attracted by the titillation is the same as saying one buys Playboy for the articles (does anyone still say that? Does Playboy still exist in any meaningful way?)… yes, there may be good articles, but really, it’s the tits and ass that matters…

… i come up against this uncomfortable truth over and over and over again… to the point where i throw up my hands in frustration at what to do… i know that society’s continued emphasis on women’s bodies is a mess of objectification that does women general harm in their efforts to be taken seriously as smart and accomplished individuals… but there is this primal thing… i am hardwired to be sexually attracted to women i think are beautiful… the mechanics of it are different for the two sexes (and i will leave aside for the moment all the gender fluid nuances that exist), but the bottom line is primal attraction is primal and it is not possible to eradicate it from my being…

… i can try not to be drawn into programming and imagery that gets my libido going, but why?… i enjoy having my libido engaged… it feels good… as long as it involves adults portrayed consensually and in consensual engagement, and as long as i am able to separate fantasy from reality, i set myself free to be titillated without guilt…

… i am coming to the conclusion that it is best not to try to ban libidinous reactions from my mind (not that i have ever really tried)… nor do i think i should be embarrassed by it (which i sometimes am)… instead, i need to acknowledge to myself how powerful they are, take note of when and how they are activated, then let them move through like clouds in the sky, enjoyed simply for what they are…

… what matters to me is how i treat women (all human beings really, but women are the focus here)… acknowledging my initial primal reaction (to myself) and then letting it pass through is, as far as i can see, my best strategy for moving on to a more respectful and satisfying relationship with the women i share the planet with…

Photographer: Kate Sweeny

Kate Sweeny

… nice photographs of young women, clothed and unclothed… an example of nude photography with women behind and in front of the camera… the artist tells us that the photographs are not about the objectification of women, but rather, about the celebration of women’s bodies as an art form in and of themselves and as natural presences in the world… which i believe… the photographs are, however, easy to view in a sexualized and objectified way, especially when they deploy tropes like wet fabric on the body as in the above image… i think we suffer from a lot of confusion about sex and sexuality, particularly in American Society, because there is a strong tendency to repress sexuality, and because the Patriarchy is so alive and well, it makes any young woman an object of sexual desire and any photograph of said young woman sexualized, when patriarchal eyes that are looking… i don’t see this as a reason not to make and display them… i do see a need to be honest about the variety of ways in which content can be perceived…

Tschabalala Self

Tschabalala Self, “Love to Saarjtie” (2015)

… yesterday i posted about Vanessa Beecroft and two local-to-me artists, Debbie Masters and Judy Sigunick…

… today, Tschabalala Self comes to my attention as painting in a related primitive vein, with the subject matter being woman… i find the sexual frankness of some of this work”) interesting in that women are addressing their genitals openly and frankly which is new to me… a new trend or have i not looked at enough contemporary art beyond photography?…1

… i am also finding it interesting that i am frequently seeing work by woman rendered in a Venus-Earth-Mother-Goddess way… is this a sign that the matriarchal spirit is trying to reclaim it’s place…

… these are just reactions… much more study needed to accurately identify a trend and the meaning of it as well as discuss the ins and outs of the representation of women in art…


  1. … there is a similar trend in photography where women are photographing other woman in the nude, though not usually revealing their genitals… it raises the question of whether it is objectification if a woman is the photographer… the conclusion i have come to is that yes, it can be objectifying and that objectification is not always and forever a bad thing… it can take its place gracefully in an enlightened culture that does not automatically devalue women to mere sex objects… unfortunately, we have a long way to go in the United States on that score… [return]

I Am So Apalled

… from this article i learned about a website where you can upload a photograph of any woman, and it will feed you back a very credible nude image of that woman… it should be illegal, but guess what, it’s not…

… you can imagine the variety of malignant uses the website can be put to…

… interestingly (not surprisingly?), it doesn’t work at all on men, unless you want to imagine what they might be like as a woman…

… how low can we go…

… and on that note, i am off to walk, contemplate and make pictures…

Eve Adams

I have been following the blog Body Impolitic, written by Laurie Toby Edison. Today I read her post about Eve Adams and was moved by it. The final paragraph in the post:

Eve Adams is worth remembering both for her accomplishments and for her fate. In the end, in the hell of the camps, who she was, what she wrote, who she loved, and what she believed was dissolved and erased. Everyone who died in the camps, everyone who dies at the hands of the police, everyone who is deported today to a dangerous homeland, everyone who dies of abuse of any sort should be remembered both for their individuality and for their common experience. The celebrated and deported Lesbian activist writer dies next to the housewife who never left her home village, and nothing about any of their deaths is inspirational, or hopeful.1

Ms. Edison describes herself this way.

04 Paul Phung, Sisterhood

… to encounter Paul Phung’s portfolio, Sisterhood, immediately after spending time with Jenna Westra’s Afternoons, is interesting to say the least… the parallels are significant… Phung’s project shoots women who are dancers… Westra’s project shoots women who are dancers… both make claims to displaying feminine intimacy, though Westra’s work is a deeper study of the feminine…

… costuming has removed the sexuality of female bodies as in issue in Phung’s work, the women dance in robes with copious amounts of fabric which hide features of the female body that could signify overt sexuality…

… largely, i react to Phung’s work as a study of dance and female dancers… the choreography is not that of the artist as it is in Westra’s work, and Phung remains removed from the work since he does not, could not, participate in it as subject, and he photographs from a distance, no close in crops…

… i enjoy Phung’s photographs, they are well done, but they actually lack the intimacy claimed, which is further made remote by dance representations of what intimacy amongst women is…

03 Jenna Westra, Afternoons

… i’ve taken my first page by page tour through Afternoons, by Jenna Westra

… here is what i notice…

… the artist includes photographs of herself throughout and uses a cable release in several of the portraits which marks the portraits as self portraits and identifies her amidst the multiple women who are subjects of photographs in the book…

… thus, one woman in particular, the artist, has prominence in the book as the only individual with a name and a presence that goes beyond studies of form and the feminine… the choice to include herself without such clear identification for the other women is significant and shifts what the book would be without it… yes, the other women are sometimes identified in the title of a picture, all, i presume, are listed at the end… it’s not possible to be certain, as there is a list of names but only as individuals to be thanked, one wonders about these choices…

… keeping the female subjects of the photographs largely unidentified supports the feminine generalities of the book…

… there are full and partial nudes in the book… they are outnumbered by images of women with some kind of clothing on… only one of the nudes1 strikes me as being at all sexual, attractive to the male or female gaze… a woman’s sex potential is not an overt theme of the book, rather, it is feminine form, femininity and an intimate society of women together… it is not to be assumed that the women are lesbians either… they are there, with each other, as a sisterhood… or perhaps, as alter egos, different dimensions, of the artist herself…

… the book is well done, a mixture of black & white and color images, it has a nice pace…

… there are layers of intent and meaning to peel away, more is revealed with each pass through the book…

… a very nice photobook experience…


  1. Not surprisingly, this is one of three images used to represent the book, the idea that sex sells is alive and well, even in a non-profit store dedicated to the work of book artists. To say it promises more than the book delivers is an understatement. [return]

03 Afternoons, Jenna Westra

… i ordered this book prior to leaving on vacation, forgot that i had, was pleasantly surprised to see it in the mail pile when i returned…

… for some time now i have been interested in the subject of women in photography, as subject/object, as photographer, as critic… i became especially interested in the “male gaze” vs the “female gaze,” as i was noticing increasing numbers of women photographers photographing other women nude… i often found the nude images made by women as “male gaze” provocative as those made by men, and wondered how that squared with the feminist idea that it is not helpful that women are continually objectified as sexual objects, not to be taken seriously as intelligent accomplished beings in their own right…

… i ordered this book because it is entirely about the female body, singularly or with other female bodies, with some full or partial nudity, but as often dressed and posed in ways that allow an appreciation of youthful feminine form without being open to an overly sexual read…

… from the opening essay by Orit Gat…

Many of the photographs feature degrees of nudity. Once this book, these photographs, are out in the world, the tender consciousness of being seen between the models and the artist or the cameral shifts. Whatever eyes rest on them, though, will recognize different things in their freedom. It’s hard, maybe impossible, to talk about a female gaze without it reading like a translation of the terminology of the male gaze. The comfort nude women feel around one another will read as familiar to many, and like a secret society to others. The photos do not explore the difference per se, but they also do not generate tension around the history of nude representation. Instead, there is tenderness.1

… it’s a deep subject that has brought lots of feminist literature into my library, Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex, for example…

… the biggest thing i have learned is that consent, then intent, matter… the models should always have agency in both agreeing to be photographed, how they are photographed and how the photographs are to be used after being made… intent also matters… and even when intent serves a good purpose, is not objectification of subject, the image can always be appropriated as such when it engages the male gaze, which often is the case…


  1. Gat, Orit. Forward to Afternoons, Westra, Jenna. Published by Hassla, 2020. [return]

20210614.07

… my vacation reading material…

… have been reading most things i can get my hands on about women and photography… all aspects… women as subjects(objects), photographers, critics, historians… this book is an anthology of writings on photography by women… the last few essays have been interesting looks at the role of photography in conflict, politics and empire building… one in particular written by Gen Doy on the Paris Communeat the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian war seems to channel some aspects of current political and economic forces at play…

04 Jenna Westra, Afternoons

Jena Westra, from Afternoons

… Brad Feuerhelm gives this book a highest recommendation, stating that it is as near perfect a photobook as could be… i recognize the name of the artist which makes it likely i’ve run across the work before…

In the case Jenna Westra’s Afternoons (Hassla, 2020), several factors within the book suggest a return to the body as an act less of political dialogue, but more as an act of balance. Westra employs gesture and a number of interesting sculptural tactics to create a world where the feminine is embraced without men involved at all and unlike Girl Pictures, the emphasis is not on fantasy, but on reality, collaboration, and intimacy.1

… the book is about the shape and form of women… young women… it feeds my rabbit hole… i ordered it…

04 Motherhood Penalty

an article on how women are penalized in their professional careers for having children… the art world is no different, given its male domination… and here is an interesting quote:

The cultural industry contributes a greater share to the United States gross domestic product than agriculture, transportation, or construction, proving that creative work is **work.1

06 What’s in a name?

… interesting article on the problem with naming women artists, who’s histories are all too often tied up with men more famous then they during their lifetimes… and then there are the ways that the patriarchy patronizes women when it names them…

In 2017, French novelist Marie Darrieussecq’s succinct biography of early 20th-century German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, Being Here Is Everything, was published in English. In it, Darrieussecq calls her subject Paula, while the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who was her friend, is called Rilke. When asked about this disparity in The Paris Review, Darrieussecq was blunt, “It’s the truth about men and women. It still is. It’s hard to have a name when you’re a woman.”1

05 About Abortion Rights

Middlebury College economist Caitlin Knowles Myers projects that overturning Roe might reduce the annual number of abortions by about 14 percent. “A post-Roe United States isn’t one in which abortion isn’t legal at all,” Myers told The New York Times. “It’s one in which there’s tremendous inequality in abortion access.”1

… having just been thinking about atrocities and the atrocious, i encounter this article and wonder, why are these “atrocities” so important to stop, and others not?… the same Christians so adamant about abortion are pro Israel in spite of its atrocious treatment of Palestinians… the same Christians many decades ago lynched black men and women(?)… there is something unique about the unborn child?… i suspect it is a useful political issue for rallying the faithful as well as a means of oppression of women, especially women of color…

… pro choice advocates are resigning themselves to further restriction of abortion after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case out of Mississippi…

… we are not logical animals… we are primal and political animals… the ability to reason only means we can work out a defense for atrocities and the atrocious…

07 Personal and Political by Elin Spring

_“The personal is political” was the slogan of second wave feminism. In this deftly interwoven exhibit, curator Karen Haas features photographers working 1965-1985 from Canada to Latin America in a demonstration of how women’s personal lives were inextricably linked to cultural and political inequalities. The provocations and inspirations of the Civil and Equal Rights movements share many qualities with our current #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements. “Personal and Political” sheds light on a vibrant historical narrative, offering a perspective that brings our own times into sharper focus.1

this article reviews an exhibit at The Museum of Fine Art, Boston, featuring women photographers active during the years 1965-1985… i would definitely go see the exhibition if i were in Boston, even if women in photography weren’t my personal rabbit hole… some great images in the show, here are a couple…

“Patti Smith, New Orleans” Annie Leibovitz (American, born in 1949) 1978. Photograph, chromogenic print Gift of Jan Colombi and Jay Reeg Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

“Bathroom Surveillance, or Vanity Eye” Martha Rosler (American, born in 1943) 1966–1972. Photograph, inkjet print (photomontage)

Museum purchase with funds donated by Scott Offen Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

04 Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency

Dr. Marcus Bunyan reviews this exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago

… i saw a review of the show a while back, made me wish i could afford to get to Chicago…

This is a harrowing exhibition. In reality, in the 21st century, it shouldn’t be, for the problems that it investigates – the psychological, physical, and emotional realities people encounter in the years leading up to, during, and after fertility; the lack of open acknowledgement of pleasure, the lack of access to abortion, trauma, and the loss of fertility – should not longer exist. Women’s bodies are not vehicles for reproduction as see through a patriarchal, capitalist lens.1

_“I’m trying to visualise a history of misogyny so we don’t forget what’s in the past and don’t get too comfortable in the present; so we take a look at things that sometimes we don’t want to – in a visual way that doesn’t make you just turn the page but makes you engage somehow and think a little bit.”2

Of Sports, Asian Women, and Volleyball

… last article to review today, a pretty rich morning… appealing to my interest in the state of womanhood, this documentary on Nichibo Kaizuka, a women’s volleyball team which rose to fame and cultural icon status because of their winning ways… they were dubbed the “Oriental Witches”… there is so much to unpack in that moniker alone… titled The Witches of the Orient, it is on view at Doc Fortnight, which requires an expensive MoMA membership to view, but if you are already a member, or maybe you should become a member, most of the fee is tax deductible…

Reading about Pixy Liao

… i read about Pixy Liao’s staged photographic work calling into question the patriarchy and its notion of the place of women… it has been getting a lot of attention… there is currently an exhibit at Fotografiska in New York City… one of her images:

After Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Experimental Relationship series, 2019, © Pixy Liao1

… the incorporation of this work into the gallery and museum art system is the beginning of its absorption into the patriarchy and neutralization of its message as noted by Abigail Solomon Godeau in quoting Walter Benjamin in Photography at the Dock:

We are faced with the fact… that the bourgeois apparatus of production and publication can assimilate astonishing quantities of revolutionary themes, indeed, can propagate them without calling its own existence, and the existence of the class that owns it, seriously into question2

… this has a tendency to neuter the message… it is interesting as Asian art too, given the Atlanta shootings, it clearly is in opposition to the myth that woman, particularly Asian woman, is/should be passive/submissive…

… Godeau, in discussing the work of Connie Hatch, notes that her work is not easily commodified, existing primarily as performative slide shows, which makes the neutering of its message difficult… Godeau notes:

To refuse to supply the apparatus, as Benjamin and Brecht enjoined, may in fact be possible only by affirming one’s place in the peripheral spaces outside the emporium of high culture.3


  1. https://www.fotografiska.com/nyc/exhibition/your-gaze-belongs-to-me/ [return]
  2. Walter Benjamin, The Author as Producer, in Reflections, ed. Peter Demetz (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Jovanavich 1978), 228 [return]
  3. Abigail Solomon Godeau, Photography at the Dock, University of Minnesota Press, 1991, p 193 [return]