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Pauline Rochas & Carole Beaupre: ATTACHé


We had announced in our temporary blog, the exhibition of Pauline Rochas and Carole Beaupre in new gallery in New York “Hotel Particulier”. Today, we present here more images about “attached”‘s exhibition.

In their series of photographs, ATTACHé, photographers Pauline Rochas and Carole Beaupré explore the erotics of power transference through seven female subjects who harness the penetrative potentiality of the strap-on phallus. Portraying real women who incorporate this erotic accessory in their lived sexual identities, the duo photographically investigates the psychodynamic underpinnings of this taboo object as it troubles dominant orthodoxies of gender, subjectivity, and the body — opening onto untold horizons of sexuality and pleasure. The collaborators conceive of power transference as “a transition from one persona to another.” “This shift,” they say, “concerns not only pleasure, but also power, and how these two things interact with one’s identity.”

Activated by its wearer, the strap-on becomes a vehicle — not only of transference — but of transformation. A tomboy becomes a lusty Priapus, an artist engages in a pas de deux with her blow-up doll muse; a dominatrix tugs the leash of her masked boy toy; young lovers simulate penetration. Prolonged exposures create uncanny doubling effects that suggest multiple sexual positions and personalities. The subjects are enveloped in an auratic haze that evinces the bodily chaos and spiritual ecstasy of sexual frisson as two bodies collapse into one.

The fetish, as Sigmund Freud would have it, is a substitute for the penis — “a token of triumph over the threat of castration and a protection against it.” To wear a strap-on, however, is not to capitulate to feminine lack. Philosophers Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek, informed by Freud via Jacques Lacan, articulate the difference between the penis and the phallus — between the male organ and the disembodied signifier of symbolic authority. “Because it is an idealization,” writes Butler, “…which no body can adequately approximate, the phallus is a transferable phantasm, and its naturalized link to masculine morphology can be called into question through an aggressive reterritorialization.” Rather than a totem of phallocentrism, the prosthetic penis is exposed as a transformative, pleasure-giving mechanism, a ligament that binds two partners in sexual communion. “The phallus,” Zizek quips, “is far too serious a thing for its use to be left to stupid creatures like men.”

Rochas and Beaupré’s well-equipped subjects evince a polymorphous perversity that transcends reified gender stereotypes. The ‘phallic’ woman performs an indeterminate, epicene sexuality with multiple sites of pleasure and stimulation. Nevertheless, the pair is less interested in a programmatic deconstruction of sexual norms than in an artistic celebration of Eros and psychosexual communion. Their work could be located in a lineage, not only with the phallic provocations of Linda Benglis, but with Gustav Klimt’s sleeping Danaë — seduced by the Zeus in the form of an ejaculatory shower of light. The sexual and the celestial fuse in an erotic dream state.

Collaborative partners behind the still life digital photography practice Coolife Studio, Beaupré and Rochas have mastered the art of imbuing inanimate objects with vitality. Inverting the moribund connotations of nature morte, the subjects of their commercial photographs — be it confectionery, a pair of stiletto heels, a bottle of champagne, a lipstick holster, or a set of crinkled sheets — seem to leap off the pages of glossy magazines, obliging the viewer to eat, to drink, to smell, to touch. In their shift from commercial photography to fine art, the sexual fetish replaces the fetishized commodity. By blurring the lines between subject and object, self and other, ATTACHé is at once a natural expansion of Rochas and Beaupré’s still life practice and a bold new territory for the creative duo.

Pauline Rochas & Carole Beaupre
From October 17th to November 30th, 2013
Hotel Particulier
04 – 06 grand Street 
New York 10013

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