This letter was sent to me through the contact form of my website and is reproduced here with the permission of its author.
I don’t know how to convey this without sounding like a random creep from somewhere across the world. But I’ll just out and say it anyway:
You are amazing. I tend to be incredibly dismissive about Modern/Conceptual art – especially performance art in general. But after discovering your videos, I find you both as a person, and an artist so brilliantly captivating. See I’ve realised after many years of experimentation, that I really do not like porn at all. I find it so tasteless, vulgar and unenjoyable. I find that the people appearing in porn often act out unconvincingly, desecrating their bodies with tattoos, bling and basically ceasing to be human. There is no emotion or humanity at all – it’s scripted, or even worse, it’s so badly improvised it’s almost painful to watch. Most of the time, it’s saturated with too much of everything, too limited and too formulaic at the same time. More than anything though – it’s patently inauthentic. I always feel like I’m watching animals mate on a wildlife documentary.
But in your videos, I see something different. I bear witness to a candid, vivid catharsis of human emotion. I don’t quite know how to articulate this – but I feel like I’m experiencing the paradox of watching a beautiful young woman exposing her naked body; exhibiting a confessional display of fear and vulnerability on the one hand, while cultivating this personality of shame as a uniform of bravery and power on the other. It is through your display of weakness and fear that you appear strongest.
What strikes me is how bold you are – how unafraid you are to reveal yourself literally and metaphorically. I feel like it’s more than a performance. You have a perfect body, and you play with it skillfully and elegantly, like an instrument. Reading your online journal does pose interesting questions that I have about sexuality – and the woman in popular imagination. I find your word posts to be rather cryptic and esoteric in nature- but I get the sense that you’ve endured some kind of personal trauma and a range of experiences in your life that numbed you to the threat of being exposed and naked to thousands of voyeurs. I feel like I’ll never really understand that. But watching your videos, I guess, makes me feel mildly threatened. In an exciting way. As if, my darkest, voyeuristic fantasies about female vulnerability and sheer indignity are actualised, becoming real, and are being used against me like some kind of weapon. It’s like you’ve discovered a harmful secret to the nature of mankind that nobody really likes to publicly acknowledge.
Rambling aside – there are things I’m interested to know – like do people you know personally (say your family, friends or people on the street) know about this artistic project of yours? If so, what do they think about it? I also noticed you have what looks like a wedding ring on your finger. What does your husband think about it too?
I’ll end by saying that I think you have the body of a goddess, you put it to amazingly good use, and that I, a young man with no taste for Modern art or society in general, can state unironically that I genuinely respect and appreciate your work. And no – I don’t consider you to be a “porn” artist either. If anything, I’d say you’re more of a niche visual artist, or even entertainer. But keep on doing what you’re doing right now.
Lots of love from the UK,
I don’t know if I can sufficiently say how thankful I am that you wrote to me. I wish I could have answered earlier and I’m sorry if the delay made you feel like I didn’t appreciate what you said. The truth is quite the opposite. Your letter arrived at a time where a lot of intense things are happening in my life and I didn’t want to rush a generic response to what you’ve so sincerely expressed.
Ironically, I was in a museum when I received your email (I never go to museums so it’s a particularly funny coincidence). I had just spent the afternoon questioning my place in the world and wondering what my art meant. I sat in the lobby to read your words and they brought tears to my eyes, as well as a wave of pride that I am genuinely unashamed to admit. I still don’t totally understand why I do what I do and where the hell it’s supposed to take me, but what you wrote reminds me that it’s most definitely worth it. My project is not “successful” right now in terms of income or recognition, but these things could never mean more to me than the kind of reaction you’re sharing here. That makes me feel truly successful, like truly successful at life.
It’s a tall order to address everything you bring up. Let me start with your direct questions. The people close to me all know about my project. Most of them, like my family, don’t interact with it at all but just accept that it’s a part of my journey, which I am grateful for. As for more extended circles, I have just started the process of “coming out” and bridging all of my worlds. It’s been challenging. I am trying to overcome the feeling that I am imposing myself in a potentially abusive way. At the same time, I am learning to own how differently some people see me now. So far it’s mainly a positive difference. I am lucky to live in a pretty artistic and alternative community. Still, there are questions I still haven’t figured out about how to keep myself safe. So far I’ve managed to keep my location private but if that was to change, then I hope it won’t have negative consequences. What’s interesting though is that the risks I’ve already taken have resulted in so much more confidence and empowerment, that I think I have what it takes to handle it. As for my husband (well observed, yes I am married), he and I both aren’t conventional people and our relationship reflects that. Still, it took him a while to understand where I was coming from but now he’s one of my project’s biggest champions.
I doubt that I could ever fully explain all the reasons that drive my art but you are definitely right that my past has led me to it. I have very different views and expectations of life (if you’re interested and if you haven’t already seen it, I wrote a post about my story: https://rainrobert.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/on-my-story/). The only distinction I would make from your statement is that I am not numb to the threat of exposing myself, I am actually very aware, but I believe that the threat of not revealing my true self is even greater. Granted, revealing as much as I do may seem exaggerated to most people, but it’s just proportional to how much hiding and self denying I’ve done before. I also really mean what I do, and if it gets me into trouble, then it’s the kind of trouble I am willing to face.
You bring up such interesting questions about the nature and interplay of my strength and vulnerability. I have never heard anyone articulate their perspective the way you do here. I’m really in awe of the depth of your honesty. I’m glad you feel like it’s more than a performance. I don’t even consider it to be a performance at all. Before I started sharing them, my videos acted a mirror for me to learn to see myself, but now that they are out there and generate reactions, the whole thing has become something much more complicated and much more interesting. Anything I make now is a dialogue based on how I am being received. What I do comes from the inside out but how the outside reacts influences me inside. It’s fascinating really, and mostly it makes me feel very alive.
I will leave it at that for now. If you’re interested in continuing this conversation, I would be honored to hear more of your thoughts. Also, and this is only if you would consent to it, I would love to post your letter on my blog (anonymously if it’s better for you) and my response to it. I’ve been wanting to write about my interactions for a while now as I believe they are one of the most important components of my project. Your observations are so striking, I really think they are worth sharing. You are of course welcome to say no to this, I would completely respect it.
Again, thank you so so much. I think you are amazing too.
Wishing you the very best,