Beautiful, depraved

Intimacy. Debauchery. Irreverence.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Naked as we came

Photographer Sally Mann gained notoriety through the provocative pictures she took of her children, showcased in the book Immediate Family. Disarming in their insolence, truly owning their bodies, these children project boldly and defiantly - something we don't necessarily associate with the naked body or the naked self.

I imagine these children having the luxury of growing up barefoot, wild and free to roam; sylph-like, able to explore their strength, agility and grace, unencumbered by clothes, or shame.

It's unusual to see shots of adults with such raw, exuberant beauty. This quality of radiant self-possession is rare in general and nearly absent with the nude. I search a lot for this level of truth, self-love and raw empowerment. For something which is startlingly authentic. When I find it, it's disarming and it opens me. People comfortable being themselves give me permission to do the same.

Just being a porn star and being willing to go through the motions of reveal, doth not self-possession make. I do see traces of it in Sasha Grey, the wunderkind 20 year old who's myspace bio cites her loves for "rough sex, being silly like a pixie, true love and c.g. jung." I haven't seen much of her work but what I have seen and the way she describes it, it sounds like there is a sentient person engaging.

There is a beautiful closing scene in the film version of Story of O, the great Western treatise on de-civilizing. The way these children still have retained their self-confidence is something that O comes to after much unfolding and stripping down. One of the final frames in the movie is O naked amongst a group of people at a black tie party. She wears a beautiful mask of bird feathers and she stands open and vulnerable, yet exuding strength.

We humans come by it honestly, but often when it's removed, we need to return to it shockingly.

Photos: Sally Mann



Anonymous Matthew said...

an australian photographer, bill henson, has, this week, had his exhibition opening closed because it contained photos of children, looking radiantly self possessed, prompting uninformed judgments from the prime minister, and a spirited defence from cate blanchett. an interesting controversy.

27/5/08 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to write that I have been reading your blogs for 4 months now and you do not know how inspired I am from you write. You have brought out feeling about my sexual identity that I always thought were socially unacceptable. But I realized that it is just an expression of my inner self. My sexual inhibitions acted out are my truest and most emotional feelings that can be fully expressed. Thank You so much.

2/6/08 10:26 PM  
Blogger kasia said...


Thanks for that. I heard about it as well. I was glad to see such prominent people such as Cate Blanchett speak up in defense and admonition.

It is an interesting controversy and it makes we wonder what's deeper beneath the desire to 'protect our children.' Is it a collective unconscious fear of owning our sexuality? Of acknowledging our sexual vulnerability? Of admitting that children are sexual beings at times? With such violent reactions, I wonder what other nerves are being hit.


2/6/08 11:45 PM  
Blogger kasia said...


Thank you for writing. I do think our sexuality is an amazing venue for self-expression and a means for us to grow. Owning it is a very powerful thing.


2/6/08 11:48 PM  
Blogger kasia said...

Here's a link to the Bill Henson story:

3/6/08 10:24 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home