Emma Kohlmann is the artist whose erogenous pantings and zines explore themes of eroticism and empowerment through an unforgivingly female gaze. The conventions of female sexuality are discarded within her work and replaced with a fluid darkness, ambiguity and unnerving pleasure.
We asked Kohlmann to share with us her most inspiring books from her collection and describe to us what they mean to her.
You can purchase some of her zines here.
Louise Bourgeois: I Have Been to Hell and Back by Louise Bourgeois, Iris Müller-Westermann
Louise Bourgeois is one of my hero’s. I find her work to be so close to my own. In this most recent publication of Bourgeois, it is a monograph of her tremendous body of work. I enjoy reading Bourgeois’s writing especially talks about the privilege of sublimation, “controlling of chaos by one of us” . She speaks to the importance of women embracing their sexuality, in addition to men allowing themselves to be vulnerable, instead of perceiving gender as a dichotomous relationship, “we are all male/female.”
Snapshots by Marv Bondarowicz
Marv Bondarowicz’s Snapshots is one my favorite books I own. I would describe this work as erotic abstraction. I was never able to find where this book came from or any information on the artist himself. I love how experimental and elusive it is. I am drawn to its physical nature of the mirrored erotic creations. I enjoy the movement of the images. The photographs have a certain ambiguity to them, at times the viewer has no idea what you are looking at. I like the blatant hints Bondarowicz gives, whether it be a squeezing hand or nipple. In my own creative practice I like working in abstraction. I find [...]
This weekend Dalston’s Rio Cinema hosts the third annual London Sex Worker Film Festival, a one day programme of feature films, shorts and a discussion focused on the sex work industry.
In our present ‘whorephobic society’, the screening of these films is important in redirecting a dialogue without stigma towards sex work and the individuals that pursue it. All films are created by current or past sex workers or with valued input from sex workers, creating an honest and distinctly personal representation of an industry that is considered a mistaken path with a ‘dirty’ future where the human experience is often ignored.
The festival is also the foundation for discussion on gender, race and migration. Sine Plambech’s Becky’s Journey follows a young Nigerian woman’s plight to pursue sex work in Europe. Her plan to trek through the Sahara Desert and board a boat for Italy opens up the wider issue of the European migrant crisis that is dominating current news. Soy Negra, Soy Marica, Soy Puta – I’m Black, I’m Queer and I’m a Whore is another film being showcased that deals with the issue of sex work beyond the West. It follows Diana Navarro, a sex worker and lawyer who is fighting for the rights of trans people and sex workers in Colombia. The title alone is evident of the hardship faced; to be black, queer and a ‘whore’ is to face constant challenges of social stigma.
Paul Frankl’s award winning Roxanne is also being screened, it follows an isolated transgender sex worker who takes in an abandoned young girl and is beautifully shot on 35mm through London’s sex world of Soho- the seediness of the red lights, the sex shop windows and the dark, sweaty nightclubs is offset by the warm domesticity of Roxanne’s apartment where she’s faced with the [...]
Audra Wist was born in Pittsburgh, PA and is currently living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She explores extremes, paradoxes, and power structures that exist in pop culture, especially as they deal with narratives of representation and vulnerability. Drawing from her involvement in the BDSM community, her work confronts issues of entropy and psychology that tether fetish to the wider culture that seeks to suppress it. She is Autre magazine’s sex editor-at-large and studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Yale Norfolk, and recently acquired her MFA from UCLA in New Genres.
Do you see your professional BDSM practice (and personal, if applicable) as an enactment of or a platform for a greater political identity?
I suppose in the sense that I feel the personal is certainly political. I can’t help but tether what I experience in a session or a scene to how I perceive the world at large. They are related because I am a person who is interested in power exchange both in a sexual way and otherwise. However, I don’t feel that it is the crux of my political identity. If anything, BDSM and D/s opens up so many other routes that often times I feel at a loss for what is right or wrong, valid or invalid. I’m relatively apolitical in that regard. I’m very strident about things, but generally the things I’m strident about are about being able to open things up not shut them down, it’s about access and being able to say whatever the fuck you want, and feel whatever you want, even if it’s threatening, damning, or not politically correct, just having the space to say it and be heard without hands thrown up. Politics is all about language staking out a [...]
How do we begin to write about art? How can we translate the visual into the verbal? What are we trying to achieve in doing so? How do we remain objective and respectful to the historical truth, whilst inevitably bringing in our own subjective opinion towards an artist or a work of art? Are we even sure the historical “truth” is really true?
Jás Elsner’s article ‘Art History as Ekphrasis’ is brilliant as a starting point for thinking about how to answer these questions. Elsner asserts that art writing – and therefore art history – is a form of ekphrasis. Ekphrasis is ‘a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art’, considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another by defining and describing its essence and form. It is a translation; one form into another. In art history, the visual is reshaped; it has to be moulded to the conditions and restrictions of language, and in that process something is unavoidably misplaced. That something is, obviously, visual art’s visual element. Even translating one language into another is difficult; subtleties are lost or changed, words are swapped, rhythm is reorganised. How do we begin translating the visual into the verbal whilst remaining true to its original form?
One way of clarifying how we approach art writing is by understanding the distinction between art history and art criticism; namely that art history should be concerned with exterior factors such as dates, official records, etc, whilst art criticism should be the informed interpretation of a work of art that an individual comes to. In this understanding, art history equates to objective fact, whilst art criticism relates to subjective response. But what I [...]
“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” was the ridiculously archaic statement made by a Canadian police officer following a rape taking place at a Toronto university campus in 2011. Since then efforts globally have been processed to re-contextalise the word ‘slut’ and its hugely detrimental effect to women. Of most recent Amber Rose organised a Los Angeles march named ‘Slut Walk’ to express our cultures current obsession with shaming anyone but the heterosexual man for their sexuality. As a bastion of enormous hate from famous men who she was once involved with, Rose has taken these horrific acts and prejudices and used them to bring women together against the growing apathy towards shaming people for enjoying and displaying their sexuality.
Photographer Alexis Gross went to Amber Rose’s Slut Walk last month in Los Angeles where she took photos of this hugely empowering event and we spoke about the day. Her photos display the unity experienced on the day and a new form of accessible feminism.
Reba Maybury: Alexis, you went to the Slut Walk in Los Angeles last month, how did you find out about it?
Alexis Gross: Through social media, Amber Rose was posting about it.
R: So the Slut Walk was arranged by Amber Rose to raise awareness of her own activist work against the shaming of women?
R: And why were you interested in going there?
A: Because I think I’m trying come to a common ground with these women who carry themselves differently to myself. I’m also interested in the influence of celebrity culture on feminism. Especially in how women are reclaiming how they want to be seen as sexy and then how they want to be [...]
This months post focuses on script and lettering tattoos we came across at Le Mondial Du Tatouage. It’s interesting to see how these types of tattoos conflict or are cohesive with the rest of a persons body art. Scripts and lettering are so diverse in style and substance. We come across scripture that is religious, historic, romantic, nostaligic, comical and forever enigmatic, as we ask why that word or phrase in particular? It also seems that our photographers captured mainly men with script and lettering tattoos, is there a sense of self-assurance bound to this type of tattooing on the body? Here are some of our favourites captured by photographers Amaury Choay and Maxime Ballesteros.
By Julie Bréthous
At the dawn of French Revolution, the absolute monarchy that found its roots during the Middle Age and fully matured in the sixteenth century under Louis XIV’s reign, was shattered by a lack of political, economic and social stability. Louis XVI, to deal with France’s massive debt following numerous large wars, reinforced upon his citizen an inefficient and unequal tax system that stirred a discontentment already rising due to years of bad harvest. In May 1789, following the ideals of the Enlightenment, the Estates-General gathered the Aristocracy, Clergy and Third Estate to discuss the possibilities of a monarchy that would give equal rights to all citizen deemed capable of reason. This (to put it very briefly – information about the French Revolution as a whole are easily found) led to July’s assault of the Bastille, one of the symbol of the absolute monarchy, and the writing and adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in August of the same year. France was then given a new constitution and 1789 would mark the beginning of more than ten years of profound political changes that would try, and sometimes fail, to give man’s rights a new meaning. But while all men were foreseeing a future of new possibilities, one major portion of the population was left outside: women.
In France, as in most Western countries, the view of women within society is simple: they are not considered as citizens. Not only are they denied this right, but the very belief that women are not even able by nature to think by themselves, make plausible judgements, and therefore belong to the public sphere of politics is deeply rooted within common perception. They do not exist as individual beings [...]