The more I
thought about presenting the subject of female erotic feelings
to the public, the more I felt that there should be accompanying
photographs. As I wanted to make people understand more about
others and thus about themselves I wanted to use the best means.
A photograph supports words when well chosen. It makes it easier
for people to get into the mood.
should be shot by a woman, I thought. Most women cannot be relaxed,
free, themselves, when a man is in the room. There is too much
pressure. Linda had just decided about her new photography project
being „hot old women“ when we met in May 1994. She
was feeling a change in her life, no longer able to be the girl,
young woman she used to be, and wanted to know how aging women
dealt with their still vibrant sexuality. She was in the choices
women make to further develop their own sensualities.
So we were
very much on the same level concerning the subject when we met.
We started out by interviewing and photographing each other
in order to evolve certain standards for the interviews following.
I discovered how shy I was. It was very hard for me to show
inner feelings and my body. Linda was well prepared for her
session. She knew exactly what she wanted to show to the camera.
For her it was a performance and for me it was a pleasure and
discovery to photograph her.
that we should be doing the interviews and the photographs together
to make the photograph and text match. Linda is a visual person
and sometimes starts to push things into a direction she thinks
she needs them to go. I am a rather romantic type. My texts
tend to idealize or hide conflicts. We fought our prediclitions.
When we met
I was in a state of depression concerning my erotic life because
my marriage had been suffering of lose of trust. Some months
later Linda was confronted with the end of her long-term relationship
with a younger boyfriend. We became friends, sharing problems
which affected us strongly at the time. The project made us
change. We opened up to different worlds and lost our fear.
Other women’s experiences gave us confidence and support.
For the first
interviews we asked women we knew, friends and acquaintances,
who we thought may be interested. We wanted women of different
social status, different countries and different ages. We asked
the women to bring items and clothes they found erotic and to
choose the place they wanted to talk and to be photographed.
You could assume that an open atmosphere might be difficult
to reach. This was not the case. The interview got so involved
that they forgot about their fear. Every click of the camera
seemed to push them further.
We asked four
1. What does
the word‘erotic’ mean to you? The definitions of
the women differ as much as the women themselves, depending
on the continent, country, place they live and their standards.
Most women have very clear values. Personal attitudes as well
as cultural and family traditions are important. We cannot be
sure that the word erotic means the same to everybody. This
is why it is good to ask for definition of it at the beginning
- as there are some cultures who have never heard of this word
specifically. We learned to translate it to them as ‘bodyfeeling’,
‘adult feeling’ and they seemed then to find their
equivalent and or close concept.
your first erotic feeling and show it to the camera. Often it
is not easy for the women to remember and often they reveal
something new for themselves which they wouldn’t have
remembered or thought about before.
3. Can you
remember your strongest erotic feeling and show it to the camera?
For a lot of women it is not possible to talk about only one
strong erotic experience. They had several. We did not force
them to decide which one they should choose. They could talk
about whatever they felt. This question was most affected when
the actual girl-/boyfriend was present, because they would be
more reluctant then to reveal something which might hurt her/him.
4. Do you
have certain fantasies - could you show them to the camera?
Some women did not have fantasies or did not want to talk about
them. Others had very elaborate fantasies and enjoyed talking
We tried not
to influence the women since we wanted to discover their true
feelings. This was even more important as this subject is clouded
with cliches, stereotypes, standardized dreams and hopes. So,
we kept the order of the questions and I tried to always ask
them in the same manner, with the same sort of intonation and
attitude, in order to create standards.
interviewed chose the presentation and place themselves. We
felt this was very important as we wanted them to express their
inner life. Instinctively they chose a place where they felt
safe and least restricted. They decided about the clothes they
wore. We experienced that clothes are vital to make women feel
erotic and stimulate them to get into the mood. We avoided pressure
and imposing any of our preferences. If they asked for advice
we tried to give it in a way which supported their choices and
wishes. The process of talking, being interviewed, helped them
to get into the mood and show their feelings for the camera.
Together with the words memories arise, feelings, scents, pictures,
and you can see how they start to be moved by it. Many women
told us secrets which they had not told before. They wanted
other women to learn from them.
Linda is experienced
in ‘moving’ photography. She is working on another
project called ‘Healing Waters’, where she visits
the spas of the world in order to show the healing process and
validity of using water for physical and mental health and vitality.
She shows people actively involved in the process rather than
in a pose. Through this she has developed standards and knowledge
in shooting images which show movement, intensity, sensuality,
energy and emotional states. She mainly uses natural light,
an appropriate medium for a subject which wants to give insight
into natural process and structure, showing the life history,
the process of becoming an erotic being and the present state
of erotic feelings within the women. Besides, it fixes a certain
standard which is a thread throughout the photographs and creates
certain demands concerning the setting (e.g. daytime, places
with enough light etc.)
For most women
it was a good experience to sense our compassion and support.
The interview enabled them to freely express themselves, evolving
new ideas and maybe even valuable sexual qualities. The fact
that we interviewed them and they decided to be open towards
the public often influenced their lives. Gisela from Germany
suddenly remembered how erotic she felt with her hair done in
a certain way - and she tried to show us. She was surprised
that she had forgotten about it. She then let her hair grow
We got into
the intimicy of the interviews and the photography; we got deep
into feelings. Taping gives the possibility to listen to it
again... to understand emotions and rhythms. For our first interviews
I did not yet have this experience but rather felt being an
artist creating ‘statements’, texts to express the
individual thoughts and hopes of the interviewed woman, representing
rhythm, soul and spirit of her. Thus I only have written notes
of what they said from those interviews. There was also the
fear that women could feel restricted by the tape. It showed
that this was not the case. Once they started to talk they lost
their barriers and restrictions. They got involved. Some of
the texts were rejected by the woman, the majority accepted.
We do not use the rejected texts.
In this project
we realized the power of monogamy. Meanwhile, we consider it
a tool to enable humans to enslave others and make them their
personal property. One of the very last dogmas, strongly connected
with the blood-dogma: only „my own child is my own child“,
„my own brother my own brother“, „my own wife,
husband“ etc. However, stopping believing in monogamy
We found a
strong connection between Eros and death, especially as AIDS
became now widespread. Every time you follow your sexual impulse
you are confronted with this question. You cannot just trust
people but really have to make sure that you can trust them
in order to survive.