Acceptable Sexualization of Ads

blog between legs , advertisement , artist

The author of the “Blog Between the Legs” telegram channel shares his personal experience and his view on how to show sex to an artist without showing it.

Text and illustration: Blog Between the Legs

Russian version

Before reading all of the following, think about the heading for a couple of minutes. What does he mean? Is sexualization in advertising really necessary? If we are talking about advertising sneakers or freshly ground coffee, then it may not be necessary. But what about advertisements for products directly aimed at sensual pleasure? Who determines the criteria for what is permissible, does not offend either feelings or beliefs? And is the solution to this problem simply finding a midpoint on a straight-line segment between two extreme states: fr om pornography to Muslim ban on body image?

For me, in my work, this is not an idle question of meditation. It is not a question to speculate about New Ethics or traditional religions. Not a reason to make an engaging discussion on social media. For me, the question of permissible sexualization is an ordinary, daily, urgent question that requires specific solutions and intelligible answers. How, without objectifying the body, to cause pleasant excitement fr om the contemplation of visual design? How to sell the feeling of physical intimacy without selling the body? How to increase your client's sales without falling under the sanctions of ever-increasing censorship or radical activism?

These tasks require very specific situational decisions. But instead of simple answers, I will tell you a few stories.

First story

I'm in my workshop. I paint - samples of a wide variety of painterly blots, so that after scanning them, make seamless textures for website design, use in layout, digital wallpaper, and so on. At the same time, I am texting a girl I met in a dating app. We are in that stage of communication when she suddenly starts sending her nude photos, and I understand that I have to send something back. But at that time, it was a few years ago, I am a dense tangle of complexes and self-criticism about my body and literally hate it. An important factor: growing up in an exemplary old-fashioned family with zero tolerance, not familiar with the ideas of sex education and the culture of sex experts, at that moment I still think with stable stereotypes that the female body is beautiful, but the male is no, that women, supposedly, are all, without exception, aroused by metonymic images. That is, when something that is not in any way related to sexuality, nevertheless, indicates sexuality indirectly. And the greater the amplitude of this metonymy is, the stronger is the sexual tension. However, the only thing that I can add years later to this thesis is to remove the universal quantifier fr om the phrase. This is sometimes the case.

Simply put: in response to pictures of boobs I post videos as a thick viscous golden enamel flows through the palm or wrist on the skin dries and cracks marble-white ground, as the finger leaves a red mark on the canvas. And it works! An hour later, she was standing in my studio, and I contemplate live all that is stored in the phone. She is a fierce activist of feminism, and it was here where I immersed in a whole new wonderful world of themes, LGBT, queer, sex-education and adult products.

Comment of the day today. Every year, the rigidity of sex censorship in social networks all increases, creating more and greater difficulties for the business. The creators of visual design are forced more and more into a sophisticated resort of allegories. But the allegory still has the most direct way to affect the senses of the buyer. Most often metaphor principle is chosen rather than a metonymy. Metaphor in the industry of sex toys – zucchini that stands for penis and peach for vulva. Fingers poking in fruits, vegetables, condoms – all these are examples of metaphors. But be that as visually beautiful as it may be removed, the metaphor in a very delicate topic like sex, is rather a smile than an exhilaration. Metonymy also opens spaces for extraordinary sensory permissible sexualized content in a toughening censorship.

Second story

Still, as a texture specialist, I am invited to work on the filming of an erotic music video for a lesbian rock group. The director says he plans to film two versions of the video. One - admittedly sexualized, and the other, which will not be possible to put on a family-oriented video hosting service. The second version, alas, did not happen. But in the first, in order to somehow overcome the forced innocence of fiercely passionate bed scenes, so that the viewer literally on himself and fr om within himself, felt the penetration and shudder, the director also decided to use metonymy.

Professional shooting of a video with a large team of actors, with renting expensive studio equipment - a process wh ere everything has to be highly organized. So, I have arranged themselves on the site an entire laboratory: corner with a bucket of paint of different colors and texture, syringes, swabs, brushes, cotton - all to every whim could be executed exactly.

Third story

A team of feminist activists is doing a large body art project dedicated to corporeality with the support of the German government, literally jumping into the last carriage: the very next year, the German state fund for supporting projects on human rights left Russia in connection with the law on foreign organizations. The protagonists of the project are those whose life is in one way or another connected with a breakdown of the body, with trauma to the body. These include people who have overcome eating disorders, and defend their dignity after transgender transition, and survivors of sexual abuse. There are about ten heroes in total, who paint monumental canvases with their bodies.

In this team of ardent and fiery fighters for everything good in a person, I am a newly invited technical specialist. This is at high shows of great art, wh ere the comfort of some Yves Klein model is of little importance, or during conceptual photography of a naked body in a viscous liquid, the body in the most direct sense is objectified. This is at strange naked raves, wh ere hundreds of people are painted with fluorescent acrylic, everything is painted, and therefore everything is already dirty, and you can just rock out to electronic music on the dance floor.

But when it comes to a gentle project in which traumatic survivors find the courage to show their vulnerability, it's not easy to organize body art. My task was to ensure that the complex, highly organized streaming process, extremely time consuming and with a large number of pitfalls, was as invisible as possible for the main characters - the artists of our project. Especially for them, I developed and designed a special podium and replaceable canvas cartridges, especially for them, a large empty space was found with growth mirrors and step-by-step accessibility of the shower room, and every word I said at the time of consultation was confirmed by repeated running of the whole process, again and on myself again. And if I, for example, said: “Avoid any paint getting into your ears”, this means that a few months before I was rolling on the floor from wild ear pain, trying to paint with my whole head like a brush. Samples and experiments. Since then, Aliosha has been living on the wall in my studio - a silhouette of the colorful touch of my body.

Not surprisingly, on the very last day, when everything was finally over, and the last scenery was loaded into the truck, when I finally put an end to myself, my body instantly gave up, shot me in the back, and I could not move my legs. So, on the threshold of our safe space for all participants, we had to call an ambulance.

Commentary from today. This story was refracted in the most unexpected way. I work as an artist at sex parties, and I have close contact with the organizers of several brands of similar events. And from time to time I have to give my always disappointing expert opinion about some next body art initiative.

This usually happens as follows. A certain performer, sincerely burning with the idea of sexualized creativity, sends the organizers his ten-page idea with sketches: how beautiful and sensual he or she wants to paint people somewhere in the sex zone. I read the presentation carefully and ask a number of technical questions to the author. Over and over again it turns out that for all the attractiveness of this idea, none of the performers is ready to take on all the responsibility for organizing a complex and really comfortable process for all participants. After all, the main principle of a good sex party is Safe space – a safe and, just as important, comfortable space.

The last story

Our days. Present day - how to write in the blockbuster of the seizure of land by aliens. I live in that, I draw illustrations for the sex industry and sex experts, sites marked as “18+”, pages on social networks, come up with prints T-shirts for BDSM-ers, articles on design in the sex industry began writing quietly for a major industry portal, sometimes involved in some countries to the side view of the projects, sometimes you have to send a model for an erotic photo shoot or a master class on painful practices. However, I am not a good model. But on top of pictures often have to work. Also a kind of body art. Censorship. On some photo we have to invent forms of metonymy (well, not eggplant, in fact, put) not only on the nipples and genitals, but also on behalf of the participants or other recognizable features. The better a selling platform is, the harder the censorship. No, of course, a large part of the market of products for adults today – is a wonderful abstract shapes that mimic the anatomy, secretly intruded into our society of humanoids. But all these conventional stringy genitals, too, must somehow be realized.

And now it is gathering dust, which means that there is an old realistic masturbator in my desk. Sometimes you put in front of you a plaster cast of the vulva of a loved one, take this miracle of silicone thought into the right one, and as if next to you. Only now my pocket joy came into complete disrepair, it even broke.

My life, despite all this sex, has not changed much since the first story. I still sit in the studio most of the time and make samples or check picturesque hypotheses, look for techniques for a particular project, draw and paint. And now I am holding this vulva in my hands, and next to it is an open bucket of paint. And the packaging design for realistic toys would be excellent: sensual and at the same time moderately abstract, moderately naturalistic.

Why, in fact, all this lyrics? Acceptably sexualized advertising is not a reason to philosophize, but a specific technical challenge. It can be solved through sensual metonymy, through the development of body art techniques in advertising, or through surreal images, or a dozen more awaiting discovery techniques. So far, mainly in the area wh ere this is a vital issue, in the sex industry, they use either humor (which is great, but I will write about this separately), or a metaphor, or old-fashioned eroticism, everything is squeezed in this imaginary segment between porn and hijab. And the solution is not in the middle!