Sensual & EroticTuesday, April 12, 2016
Living in the twilight of a former photographic career I find myself, ever more, thinking about the meaning of words. This is natural as I have more time to reflect and fewer worries with no deadlines to meet.
Long ago I determined that pornography (my personal take) was photography or any other art done in bad taste. In the past I attempted to shoot pornography but every time something inside of me would restrain me from going any further.
Of late I have been giving lots of reflection to the meanings of three words that somehow are related but still convey nuances of difference. These are erotic, sensual and sexy. I would immediately state that sexy has to be applied to living person while the other two, in particular sensual can go both ways. Sensual can describe a piece of art, music, dance but also a person. The word erotic is a two-way word in which that which we may be exposed to will trigger a response in our head and we might think, “That’s erotic.”
It seems that of the three words the most elegant (safe, too?) is the word sensual.
The word had me thinking all night after I scanned the two colour negatives I took of Bronwen Marsden a couple of years ago applying makeup. Also of one of Patrice Bilawka. I was thinking why it is that I find a woman making herself up (particularly in front of a mirror) to be most sensual.
As a young boy, when my father left our house (I was 8) I spent most of it with women, my mother and my grandmother. Once we moved to Mexico in 1954 it was the same. During all that time I lived (I like the Spanish word convivir) with women and was privy to many of the things that women do in privacy.
Since I have memory I remember my mother sitting in front of a mirror struggling with her hair (she complained it was too straight) and wrapping it around a fake hair do-nut for a hairdo that was most fashionable in the late 40s. It resembled the one that Eva Perón made famous. In front of that mirror I watched my mother apply makeup.
This was so because our Melián house in Buenos Aires was much too small for me to have a separate room. But by the time I was almost 8 my father spruced up the cuarto de servicio and I ended up with my private room.
In Mexico City my mother and grandmother would doll themselves up for parties. They would take out the little strongbox and decide which jewellery (purchased by my grandfather Tirso in Paris) they would wear. I have a clear memory of my mother using Chanel Number 5 (in later years it was Joy). She would moisten the back of her ear lobes. Then both women would stand in front of a mirror. I seemed to have always been there.
And so, watching a woman apply makeup in front of a mirror is both a memory of my mother and grandmother and I will not consult Freud to decide why it is erotic (yes erotic!). And more so if I am in back (it provides a degree of protection, a removal from the scene) of my camera.