by Penny Martin .

Complimentary commissioning & porno propriety

Just as Jean Francois-Carly's film is being posted today as a 'complimentary project' to sit in the overall context of Simon Foxton's SITTINGS (though Foxton was neither author nor its commissioner), we are also looking for something interpretative to position against 'DRESS ME UP, DRESS ME DOWN'. As that project references a very specific and fairly recent genre of internet pornography, we thought it might be interesting to commission someone to document the environs where 'one-to-one video chats' are broadcast from.

I have been keen to work with the photographer Jonathan de Villiers for some time (a spread from his beautifully printed, massive magazine that he made for last year's Hyères festival is pictured above: the entire magazine was shot by him; even the 'ads' that 'bookend' its editorial). Not only has his editorial been reflexively dealing with the concept of the photographic process (that is bedrock to SHOWstudio) for some time, he is one of the fashion photographers that has -gasp- *genuinely original ideas* and isn't afraid to put those he collaborates with through the mill to achieve them (his stunts remind me of the late John Cowan). In a climate where just about everyone is 'chasing the campaign' via conservative editorial, this maverick pursuit of the virtuoso is surprisingly rare.

Jonathan has also been working in film (he did a short with the artist Jacqueline Hassink as part of her 'Car Girls' project), so I asked him if he might consider doing a deadpan documentary, detailing the kinds of places and girls that make up this peculiar world of sex performance. This resulted in a very interesting phonecall about the propriety of editorial that purports to 'cover' the issue of pornography. Jonathan's pretty bright, so I don't know if I do his rationale justice here, but his central argument was that he feels pictures 'about' pornography also ARE pornography, since their role is equally to titillate, albeit less directly. (A bit like Magritte's painting of a pipe not being a pipe but a *representation* of a pipe if you want to get all semiotic on me). Jonathan was also very interesting on the role of the photographer and their guilty complicity in controlling and constraining the model. This is a compelling development from the standard Feminist rant on fashion and pornography. Perhaps we should get Jonathan to write something about why he didn't undertake the project instead of pushing for the film?!

With projects like Tom Hingston's 'Porn?' book, which dealt with fashion photography's recent obsession with pornography, and obviously, with Larry Sultan's extraordinary pictures of the L.A. sex industry, it may be that there is little else, visually, to say. It's an interesting conundrum. With pornography always having been the force behind progressing the photographic medium (from Daguerreotypes and Polaroid to home video) I can hardly imagine that the last word has been uttered.