Photographs and videos – activism, feminism, sexuality

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This project I called ‘Asking For It’ is from around 2008. I approached men in public places outside offices, pubs, cafes and gentlemen’s venues often in London’s square mile and then negotiated with them into a more private space – an alleyway, a car park, or back at their place or mine. Once there I asked them to remove items of clothes. A series of hand-printed, black and white images. It taught me a lot about my relationships with men and sexual dynamics between at least myself and men if not more universally. In particular I became aware of lack of societal protections for me as I transgressed norms of gender behaviour.

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Ben Lying

Waterporn (below) was meant to be about something completely different but somehow it became more about creating the feel of a porno.

‘A Wish for Bird Song: (Futile) Strategies for dealing with the police’

Sometimes it feels hopeless and you just have to do something symbolic. Sometimes what looks like revolution isn’t and what looks less like it is the real thing. Maybe all this will have some effect.

‘Stop Talking: Suck on my Pear’

Stop Talking: Suck On My Pear was made after an ex-lover and I saw a piece of work by a Norwegian artist called Marit Folstad. In that work the artist sucks on a banana. The work was aggressive and reminded me of my confrontations with men. This is a tongue in cheek queering of that piece. 

‘Dangerous Ideas, Docile Bodies’

This film shows video footage of two street cleaners chipping away at layers of advertisements. Sanctioned action. The footage is juxtaposed with images of people standing on the sidelines of demonstrations watching sanctioned action take place within police lines. What I say in the film is taken from an article I wrote to sort out my feelings around revenge. In ‘Lady Snowblood’ Ransui Tokunaga, a local anarchist, is referred to as “A man with dangerous ideas” by Seishiro Kikui, head of the secret police. There are times when words and ideas are nowhere near enough. And so I repeat to myself ‘There is no such thing as a dangerous idea’ ‘The creation and propagation of ideas is made by those without the guts to act’. I was speaking to myself at that time and to those around me who I saw dreaming of action, writing about it, wanting it, but who were not quite able to mobilise to take substantial direct action.

‘Notes from a session: Military Men and Displays of Submission and Masochism in the Therapeutic Relationship and Beyond’

How is it that one section of the population can become a scapegoat – holding all our collective feelings of powerlessness, submissiveness, exhibitionism and masochism – and another section of the community holds other feelings, of might, self-control, defensiveness and power? In this video one man’s judgement, decisions, life choices and mental health are questioned because of his choice of work. A whole military is indirectly questioned. Who comes under scrutiny, who considers themselves in need of scrutiny – and who, collectively, are we less willing to admit is in desperate need of years of analysis. 

The ‘Feminist Outings’ project is a large series of images taken of broadly feminist related demonstrations. The images here are earlier ones from around 2008-10 but I have continued to document many of these outings. The one below appeared for a year on the quarterly academic journal Feminist Media Studies

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The ‘Sidelines’ project is a large series of images taken from inside the protest or demonstration. These images mark a shift in me away from photographer documenting demonstrations and into demonstrator/activist firmly within the demonstration. These images are taken of people on the sidelines of the following demonstations: Slutwalk, Pride and Dyke March. These people are all looking into the demonstrations from the side, they are not taking part in the march. Some are surprised and shocked, others obviously delighted. All are experiencing intense emotion. These are a selection from a larger series.

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