Monday, April 04, 2005

chastity = my phobia

The above image was inspired by some criticism I received the other day for my self portraiture in flickr, most likely in response my power suit set.

I liked your style, it is good but I think you need to look beyond the anger, beyond the stiff and crooked edges, come out of the frame and you will explore "Chastity".

My immediate response was anger. Chastity is a word I do not like. For many reasons, I associate it with hiding, pretending and being locked in a box. But, my own journey is teaching me that the power of sensuality is frightening for some to see in others.

Thus, I thought maybe I was being too small. I should give the man a chance to elaborate and not judge too quickly.

I replied: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is my desire to keep evolving, as I explore the difficult realm of acceptance of my power. For now, my expression is of the overwhelming complexity that emerges when you allow yourself to feel the raw emotions without filters. Chastity has a negative association for me. Would you be so kind as to elaborate?

His response was not helpful and only angered me more:
Purity is the word I wanted to use... What I meant is very simple...
(Look at this image) ...Simplicity at its best at the same time defining the deepest complexity.

Ah, purity! Now I understand. errrm...Not! So, I shrugged my shoulders and decided not to email him back. I viewed the image for fairness, but it looked superficial to me. I saw no underlying presence or essence of the woman photographed.

It made me sigh remorsefully. It made me think of all those who, like me, got taught by their mothers that sensuality = sin. Then, it helped me build confidence in what I was doing because I cannot expect others to understand what I am going through. After all, the real reason I'm doing this is for me...

...and for all the other goddesses who cannot speak as loudly as me...yet.


Dragonfly (A.K.A. Sharroll) said...

Well, you know. Looking at his photo if he really wanted to express "purity" perhaps he should have thought about a model without nore and (yes even ) ear piercings. I mean, Hhow can it be pure if it is tainted by the rupturing of the skin. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind piercings. I have my ears pierced, I just don'tt understand how people go overboard on it. Okay, now I am off topic.

JohnFen said...

I read his email as being a superficial criticism anyway. Essentially, he is saying that you should be trying to get across the same message as he's shooting for... a rather pretentious thing for any artist to tell another.

I like your power suit set a lot. Much of what I like about it is precisely what he complained about. I also like his "purity" photo quite a lot, but for entirely different reasons.

Different works, different messages, both excellent and valid.

JohnFen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cap'n Marrrrk said...

My question is why someone would come in and tell you how you should compose your shots and what feeling you are trying to get across.

I like your powersuit shots because they are sexy and powerful. Chastity and Purity have nothing to do with it.


Daniel said...

Its very easy to sit on the side and make suggestions from safety and anonymity. Lets see him be brave enought to post HIS half-naked (physically and metaphorically) self portraits to the web and write about his feelings creating them. Get out on the field and take the hits instead of making suggestions about what to do from the sidelines.

I think his comments are more about his view of women and what kind of ideals he is holding onto, that anything about you personally.

Strong, vibrant women that are healthy and sexual and know what they want scare the living bejezuz out of some men. Innocent, purity and chastity might just be a way of really saying "dont be so threatening to my idealized view of women as needing to be demure polite (and therefore easily controllable), chaste, and quiet". That is much easier to handle ;).

But hey I am a guy, so what the fuck do I know about women. Or men for that matter.

Patia said...

Wonderful analysis, Daniel. Right on the mark, I think.

That model in his photo is not a woman. It's a girl, maybe 12, 13? Asking you, a fully grown woman, to make yourself like her is ridiculous and insulting. For that matter, asking you to make yourself like anyone else is insulting! You are who you are, and that's perfectly right and acceptable and appropriate.

The more time I spend on the web, the more I come to the conclusion that some people are just morons and a**holes. Still others are brilliant and special and kind. Or maybe we're all just a mix of both. I don't know.

Rori said...

*kicks his ass*

Purity because she is young?

sauceruney said...

chastity == denial of human nature

Anonymous said...

why does purity and chastity have such negative connotations? Purity can refer as much to the "purity of passion" as the "purity of innocence." Similarly, chastity defines a choice to remove oneself from an activity. Because it is a choice, it is a position of power.

People build their semiotic worlds from meanings upon meanings into abstraction ad nauseum. When if we look at the root of words we see their reality and their truth. We see their purity and their power.

Anonymous said...

This is just my humble opinion….

But come on now, I don’t know who this “artist” thinks he is, telling you how to portray your self… From the photos I looked at I see commercial appeal; made for the masses… no depth, no character, very text-book images… why is it his entire troupe of models seem to be made up of the young & pretty? Where is the true beauty in them, sure they are pleasing in appearance, very aesthetic. But where is the emotion, the passion? The imperfections that make us human? Beauty can be raw, wonderful and at times terrible to behold… Creatrix, your self portraits contain that quality of humanness, that is what makes them so powerful and wonderful…

Chastity to me speaks of being Chaste - plain, simple, and unadorned in style, so why would he chose a model that as Dragonfly pointed out has a piercing (which I have ears & several tattoos so I am not against it either)… chase and meek go hand in hand for me…two things I don’t want to be, thank you very much, lol

You go girl and keep doing what you’re doing, I think it’s wonderful… then again what do I know? Not much… but remember to thine own self be true…. You can’t go wrong with that

JohnFen said...

Well, I have to defend this guy a bit here.

As I said, I think that his criticism was pretentious. I also think that his style is cliche (which is the worst thing I can say -- and considering that 80% of all art is cliche, it's not that bad of an insult).

His work is excellent, in the sense that his style is executed well. It may not be to the tastes of people here, but that doesn't speak to his talent.

I believe that he truly thought of his email as constructive criticism, and he was trying to be helpful. His error was in criticising Creatrix's underlying message. If he had written something like "You know, if you did this differently, it would get your idea across more effectively", then that would have been constructive criticism.

But when I read the comments here, I see many that are committing the same error -- even calling into question whether he is an artist because of his preferred themes and style. I'm calling shenannigans on that. It's not necessary to demean him as an artist to point out that he was being a jerk.

I also think I know why, and to an extent this is a valuable discussion. It's because his work is cliche. not just any cliche, but a particular one that implies to the commenters here (myself included) something very different than it implies to the artist (or his customers, undoubtably).

An exploration into this difference is a fascinating topic. That discussion, however, doesn't need to involve any particular artist at all. It's about the cliche.

(Isn't it interesting that this post got more comments from guys than any other? Just noticing.)

sauceruney said...

"(Isn't it interesting that this post got more comments from guys than any other? Just noticing.)"

I always cringe when I see the word "chastity", John.

Yes, Neil, it's a conscious choice... to deny human nature... and is ultimately selfish or indicative of underlying issues usually related to sexual abuse or in the case of one major religion, a self-imposed prison in denial of said priest or nun's own homosexuality.

Creatrix (aka Jennifer) said...

Wowzers! What great feedback. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom. I am very interested in how individuals interpret those two words, aside from webster's version.

I would like to comment further, but believe I cannot do it properly at the moment. I will be back. :)

Suburby said...

I looked at your photos, which are great I think, and I find myself feeling quite annoyed by his comment, too.

Is it really your responsibilty as an artist to represent *his* vision, or should you be representing your own.

I don't see it as "constructive criticism" either. I see it as some guy telling you you should be doing things more like he does. Which is just plain wrong.