Most people enjoy le petit mort either on their own or in very carefully chosen company. It's not often a photographer is present to capture the moment when one sets off the heirbags or drops a fanny bomb. However, a new exhibition titled My Vanilla Life from photographer Derek Mossop shows several people reaching climax, on their own, in his studio and offers a rare glimpse into exactly what the vinegar strokes look like on someone else's face.
This exhibition of folks popping their corks follows Mossop's last In God's Name at the National Portrait Gallery that showed a series of post-September 11th images of America. For In My Vanilla Life, showing at The Toilet Gallery in Kingston until 28th April, Mossop advertised for subjects through Time Out and over two years took a series of images at the point of the subjects' orgasm, in a deliberately spare and detached context. No scene setting is apparent, no circumstances or story-telling is involved. Subjects are photographed from the chest up, against a black background in an attempt to freeze a fleeting moment. Mossop hopes that the pictures raise more questions than they answer - and we imagine the questions will be along the lines of "God, do I look like that when I reach high tide and I'm ringing the bell?"
Mossop, a former Kingston College student thinks the pictures resonate with imagery and power that can be found in paintingsof religious rapture by Rubens, Titian and Michaelangelo.
"They have a precedent in classical and religious imagery and aim to pose questions about issues of sexual identity and the nature of human existence... I am interested in how we define ourselves. The orgasm is such a powerful force, it is worth exploring, because during a brief moment of ecstasy, the world falls away and the mind is silent."
Orgasms certainly are worth exploring and we recommend that all our readers spend some time this week looking for one, with or without the help of a trusted and loving friend. Enjoy the silence.
In My Vanilla Life is at The Toilet Gallery in Kingston until 28th April. More information about the exhibition and the gallery can be found here. Picture shows one of the subjects of the exhibition enjoying a 0.8 Hz spasmatic pulsing of the bulbospongiosus or ischiocavernous muscles mediated by the pudendal nerve.