We've come a long way, Victoria!
This drawing is from very early on in my process of learning to appreciate the human body, including mine, in its vulnerable state of nudity as not only a natural entity, but also a sexual (and sexy!) entity too. Now I draw better; practice improves everything, but I’ve also learned how to defend this cause in a clearer, more precise way.
At first, I was literally “shaking in my boots” about admitting to drawing nudes, worse, to drawing myself nude, and even worse, to drawing pornography, and worst of all, to drawing myself engaged in sex! I was afraid of being judged, but I was the worst judge of all. The caption for this drawing from around 2002 read: ” I can allow myself to be vulnerable with you, but I’m keeping my boots on in case I feel the need to run!” And I did run from this process in all kinds of ways, but over time, I kept coming back to it because even though it’s outside my typical comfort zone, it’s incredibly healing.
Last night I was invited to be present with about 25 other artists at the opening of the Montreal Erotic Arts Festival with some of my artwork. It was the first time I actually went to one of my own exhibits with these drawings; they’d been shown once or twice before, but I couldn’t be there. I always chickened out, sent my devoted boyfriend and remained blissfully, ignorantly, detached. Finally, I have stood up and assumed it, because I fully recognize that it “ain’t” just about me! Everyone has stuff to work through about their body image and their sexuality… sometimes mild issues, sometimes more dramatic ones, but the payoff is freedom. Freedom to love yourself better, freedom to love others better, freedom from the judgments and fears that make this subject so temptingly forbidden and hidden that sometimes we just can’t figure out how to fully embrace it. Not everyone can afford sex therapy or even psychotherapy, but art has a way of helping people work through things on a deeper level than that of the mind alone. It can be truly therapeutic for both the creator and its viewers.
I presented the work and the process as “intimography” and explained how this differs only slightly from pornography or even erotica (me who hates labels!!). The expression “intimography” describes the very subtle difference in the way we perceive certain images of sex, mainly in that the intimacy factor between the participants, or, in the case of a self-portrait – with oneself - is the underlying intention or emotion behind the work. I was just thrilled to hear that people “get this” and consider it a valuable perspective. At least this was the reaction of many of the people who took the time to come and talk with me about it. There was alot more happening in that big huge space last night that was alot more titillating than my simple little drawings – but it was all good!
Intimography is like the organic, fair trade version of pornography or erotica: it doesn’t necessarily seek to excite, although it may. It seeks first and foremost to honour the body and sexuality through a new body of sexual imagery with a new perspective. And most importantly, it is based on love and respect, not exploitation of the human being or the body. I believe that for many of us, it’s easier to digest, and much more nourishing to us both emotionally and visually. Ultimately intimography documents sexual love, not just sexual activity. I think once you’ve tasted that it’s the only kind of sex you want.
A huge thank you to everyone who is supporting this cause. I want to bring it out further into the world, and enlist as many artists as possible to participate… but you don’t even have to be an artist to benefit from the process of drawing, or even tracing, sexual imagery! But that is the subject of a whole other website, to follow soon, I hope.
xox Colette, for Victoria