The International Women's Erotic Art Competition 2013
Consumed Debauchery by Lauren Kelly.
"Lauren Kelly has created something remarkable here. Two things are happening at the same time in her compelling piece; bondage and flesh running away with itself uptight and spilling out concurrently. The trestle is like a crude eight-hoofed horse, around which guts writhe and cling, unsure if they are happy feeding where they are or want to colonise something else. Like the best art, there is uncertainty and a sense of vulnerability around it, within we can project our own desires. Do we want to be lashed to that trestle horse? Or escape from it. It has the fun and eroticism of some of Sarah Lucas' pieces, but this is an internal nakedness, playing with and fetishising organs that carry nourishment and fecundity. There is also an Alice in Wonderland magic here, in that these guts are bigger than ours, so we shrink beside them. Quite a turn on." Jan Woolf
"Lauren Kelly's sculptures cannot help but draw you in with their sheer madness and sense of abandon. The sensuality and physicality of Kelly's work recalls that of Louise Bourgeois, whereas the scale and humour reminds me of some of Claes Oldenberg's early works. We chose Kelly's Consumed Debauchery for the top spot because of the clear vision, insight and consistency of this artist's work. I feel she knows what she wants to say and how to say it; there is a single-mindedness here that is utterly compelling. I found myself unable to stop thinking about Consumed Debauchery, and kept returning to it to look at it over and over. Her pieces are not simple or straightforward, they attract the intellect and then swiftly bypass it, taking the viewer somewhere odd and strange and peculiarly pleasant. There is a pop art sensibility in Kelly's pieces which brought to mind the Pop Art mantra of the sixties: to make the ordinary extraordinary. I feel with Lauren Kelly there is an element of making the extraordinary even more so through a timeless recreation of the physical world, which is by no means ordinary in the first place. This is partly what sets her work apart for me. She takes our physical world and gives it back to us in a form that makes us see our physicality afresh. Although perhaps not strictly speaking erotic, this defamiliarisation is indeed exciting." Joanna Pocock
"In 'Consumed Debauchery,' a laconic piece of minimal simplicity where carnal entanglement is represented by a long piece of tubular fabric snaking around a wooden trestle in sheer cannibalism, the snaking baroque movement capturing an all devouring event, meaning oscillates between an all-consuming desire and an event that, with certain distance, can be seen as physically oppressive, suffocating, embodying the entrapment's of flesh. All of Kelly's pieces inhabit space speaking about a strong sense of craftwomanship. 'Mating with Itself' was also on the short list as evoking a fluid sexuality, whilst 'The Organ of Sense & Its Object' was also discussed at some point, though it hadn't been entered for the competition. Ultimately, it is the sheer being there of her works and the overwhelming presence of flesh and its predicaments." Susana Medina
HAND by Gloria Oyarzabal
Very Highly Commended
"Of all the works in this competition, 'Hand' by Gloria Oyarzabal was one of the more erotic ones. This layered and evocative photograph shows a hand, which could be either male or female, hovering tantalisingly over the blurred triangular sex of a woman.
The placing of this hand and the vague hint of hair under its palm takes one into the realm of self-pleasure as much as into the realm of pleasuring another.
The artist, who works with found photos, has recontextualised clips from pornographic films shown in an outdoor cinema in Bamako, Mali, where ironically porn is illegal. She has taken these images out of the porn cinema and brought them into daylight, thus giving them an extra-and very different-lease on life.
The cinema, which is close to shutting its doors for want of business, is only kept going through the showing of illegal porn films.
This anomaly lends the piece a political dimension as well: can porn be the saviour in this drama? Because of the obsolescence of the 35mm format in favour of the colder, flatter digital aesthetic, this photo harkening back to the heyday of celluloid contains a strong nostalgic element.
I found this piece of work exciting formally, aesthetically and erotically. It is a stunning homage to the power of cinema and its historical links to desire. Who has not witnessed or experienced a celluloid encounter and not felt the pang of longing for love, sex and cinema? Oyarzabal's 'Hand' is a powerful piece of work that resonated with the judges on several levels". Joanna Pocock.
"In true erotic tradition 'Hand' is as much about what is concealed as revealed. The artist's 'found footage' is seeing as creating as I imagine that the whole, restored piece won't have the magic of this, but will be simply pornography. Here a hand - strong knuckles, a slick of nail varnish, slips into folded flesh; the intrigue of the two rings heightening our curiosity.
The beauty of the strip of decay is also arresting but does not aestheticise the image. It is in beautiful balance, its colour lovely." Jan Woolf
Happily Ever After by Sadie Hennessy (Memphis)
a Susana Medina Favourite
"A subversive fairy tale, 'Happily Ever After' by Sadie Hennessey proposes the erotic as a fabulous realm. A rocking horse becomes a rocking unicorn, the spiralling horn projected from the forehead, an erect penis. If a unicorn is a symbol of purity and grace, the innocence of an erection insists on doubling the innocence of the piece. Manifesting its latent content, a unicorn and its phallic symbolism turned actual phallus, the spiralling-horn-turned-penis dispassionately points to the fact that eroticism is ultimately in the head. Here, the erotic need is for something other, a desire still to be written, a realm of playful possibility, the mane made from real human hair singing a lullaby about sexual energy, the physical stillness of fantasy dreamily awaiting the trigger of movement.
Are we before a solitary game? Why isn't the rocking unicorn white?.
If 'Happily ever after' is a stock phrase in fairy tales signifying a happy ending, does the colour beige point to contented boredom, to the impossibility of conceiving ever-lasting happiness as a rewarding state? We remain in polymorphous, innocent limbo.
The spiralling horn turned penis projects itself to a pure, enigmatic, otherworldly fantasy world, beyond sex, an innocently ludic realm about the purity of
desire." Susana Medina
Saturday by Fionn Wilson
a Jan Woolf favourite
"This is as much about the eroticism of the act of painting itself as much as it is the subject matter. In fact the optimum blend of the two is what makes this such a good painting in the tradition of Georges Rouault and his mid European expressionist contempories that the Nazis declared 'degenerate'. In fact this kind of painting put them in touch with all that was repressed in them, making them angry and upset, so this kind of art is, in today's parlance 'life affirming'.
I love this painting and when I was a young teacher learning about the various styles of childrens' perceptions in art, would have called it a haptic image; a fancy word for sensual immersion in the subject, for example someone walking across wet grass would have huge tingling feet. Saturday has huge tingling breasts and genitals and we know from the economically painted (we could almost say daubed - why not?) mouth and the blissful energy behind her closed eyes that she is happy.
True eroticism is infantile and here she is, as much in love with her mother and her lover as much as she is with herself. What a painting. Bravo Fionn." Jan Woolf
Untitled ('sieve boobs') by Sarah Fordham
a Joanna Pocock favourite
"This installation of hand-stitched tapestry moulded onto kitchen sieves arranged on a wall is both humorous and deadly serious. The variety of colours and shapes of these breast-simulacra reflect the variety of the female form and calls into question the idea of the perfect breast which daily bombards us in the form of badly made porn, MTV, Hollywood movies and advertising.
There is almost no part of the body more contentious, more vilified, more desired, more argued over, more airbrushed and Photoshopped than the female breast. Beyond their beauty and eroticism, breasts are also supremely functional. Their milk can keep an infant alive, which is in itself an area of discord. Is breastfeeding a shackle around a woman's ankle or simply a way for nature to allow a mother to feed and bond with a child?
Through the symbolic resonance of the sieves and their association with cooking and the domestic realm, the artist enters head on into the debate around the female body and the boundaries, limits and abilities surrounding its function and eroticism. Can the two exist simultaneously?
The hand-stitching contrasts beautifully with the mass-production of the kitchen sieve, thus heightening the rhetoric around the fabrication of art and its place in the production line of history.
These Sieve Boobs are beautiful and useless objects-they function not as erotic objects, nor as kitchen implements and yet their totemic quality is imbued with both function and eroticism.
This piece is also alive with an element of surrealism much like Meret Oppenheim's fur-lined tea cup, saucer and spoon. And like much art that takes on issues of female sexuality and posits it within the sphere of the domestic and the mass-made, this piece is a reminder that art can and should function on many levels, and in the best of all possible worlds is also capable of asking questions that." Joanna Pocock.
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