Over time, certain themes have begun to reveal themselves in my work. As projects build, similarities appear in what might appear to be diverse subject matters.
My work aims to explore how we construct alternative realities, both physically and psychologically. Truth and fiction, performance and documentary all play a part in building the projects.
In Yes, Mistress I aim to explore one such alternative reality, the world of the professional Dominatrix.
It’s a secretive world but more common than one might imagine, particularly popular in Britain, Germany and Russia, often referred to as England’s dirty secret. Various guises of bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism or BDSM have been practiced since the 14th Century.
The element of roleplay is fascinating. The ability of the participants to adopt a role outside of what is usually deemed acceptable for however short a time.
The way an actor can step into another role and then back to reality in an instant.
Parallels can be drawn with a Dominatrix and their clientele. A quick ‘session’ on a lunch break, a man enters the dungeon, adopts the role of a maid or a submissive dog for an hour and walks back out onto the street into the everyday once again.
From a psychological perspective it is complex, Dominatrix often refer to themselves as kinds of therapist. They need to have a clear understanding of the mental state of their clients and how far things can be pushed both mentally and physically. Becoming a Dominatrix is not to be taken lightly and a lot of training from more experienced Doms is the usual route into the occupation.
I have always been interested in the portrayal of women in society, women’s roles and how these have changed over time, as well as sexual stereotyping. I’m particularly interested in the sex industry, the issues surrounding sex work and my own, perhaps conflicting, viewpoints regarding these subjects.
The architecture of the dungeons alludes to torture and pain infliction. Dark chambers, hospital surgeries or school rooms – harking back to the days of corporal punishment in English schools and adding to the stereotype that many of the clients are ex public school boys. The reality is a far broader. To quote one participant “BDSM can be the most liberating of physical and psychological role plays. From playing with an innocent set of handcuffs in the bedroom, through to full-on sadism, the act of relinquishing power, to whatever degree, is enjoyed by many.”
It is an extremely complex subject matter to fully understand; from a feminist perspective in terms of the relationships between the men and the women, the psychological aspect and the nature of the ‘acts’ themselves, which are all consensual but can appear quite disturbing. These activities raises questions of power and control.
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