“bodies and pleasures,” color HD, experimental video/dual channel installation, 12 minutes, 2015. Distributed by Vtape.
Two women meet one afternoon for an exchange of pleasure, power, and care through a rope bondage session.
When I originally conceived the idea for this film, I knew I wanted to make a film about sex that is not about sex, at least as far as one usually recognizes it on screen.
At the end of his first volume of the History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault famously and ambiguously invokes a realm of “bodies and pleasures,” which he contrasts to discourses of sexual liberation, as an antidote to the regulations and regimes of power he calls the “deployment of sexuality.” With this gesture, Foucault calls for practices of pleasure and care of the self that go beyond the field of sex-desire. In other words, as one scholar puts it, “Foucault simply meant to experiment with different kinds of sex without thinking of it as ‘sex.’”
What different kinds of sex might Foucault want to have experimented with? As a gay man known for his proclivities for BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism), Foucault may well have been thinking of BDSM as one potential site for the exploration of a bodies and pleasures that exceeds the bounds of genital sex and sexuality. As he begins his brief discussion of bodies and pleasures, Foucault writes that “we must not think that by saying yes to sex, one says no to power.” For Foucault, there is no space outside of power. But with BDSM, one perhaps finds the possibility of the play of bodies and pleasures in ways that recognize, incorporate, and intentionally engage with fields of power. If there is no outside to power, perhaps one’s only option is to revel in it instead.
As such, this is a film about two bodies who come together — with no back story and no future — in an exchange of pleasure and care (of the self and each other) that eschews heteronomative conventions of sex, sexuality, physical abilities, and fetishized female bodies.
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- BFI Flare, London, UK (April 2016)