Media constantly attacks our minds with misconceptions; it can confuse us, and sometimes, without our knowledge, we end up embracing the hollow images we're offered, while attempting to make sense out of the uncertainty that surrounds us. During the sixties, media transformed the audience's view on art; they believed it had to move away reality and focus only on abstract and metaphorical expressions.
Sensuality had been affected by this media's bias. Speaking about this subject had become nearly taboo, especially as it was associated with pornography. Even today, the flood of explicit nudity has played with our minds to the degree that one hardly finds beauty in a small portion of exposed skin; we are always expecting more.
Gestures, looks, movements, smells, textures: the sensuality of any one of these can surprise us. The simple things in life have the power to detonate this thrill and excitement. We continue to find pleasure and beauty in the mundane, and as we journey through this life, these images that enthralled us in the past will continue to be the most beautiful and perfect images in the world.
Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, better known as Natalia LL, approaches this subject from an artistic perspective. She seeks to reclaim the true meaning of sensuality and return it to its rightful original expression by using a variety of curves and textures. She reinterprets sensuality, turning it into a metaphor that leads to eroticism in its purest state. Without having to show the body in detail, she is able to transport us into a subtle state of excitement.
Perhaps one of her most relevant works on this subject is Consumer Art, a video in which different models play, in a provocative manner, with objects of suggestive shapes, like bananas, candies, sausages, and ice cream. This titillating sequence of images is far more exciting than the thought of actual physical contact.
None of the models shows their body; in fact, their uncovered shoulders are barely shown; the camera is focused on on their faces. But this is enough to create an erotic atmosphere that is apparent from the video’s opening seconds.
More than just the evident criticism toward consumption culture, this pioneer of feminist art seeks to sensitize us regarding women's control of their own body and sexuality; only she can decide what to show and how to do so. The models who participate in her works transmit strength and decisiveness through their gazes —steady at all times —, proud of their role as sensory guides for the spectator, which is a noticeable difference from mainstream pornographic acting. The active role taken by the women during the film contrasts with the mass cultural belief of femininity as a “passive object of erotic contemplation.”
The classic concept of domination of one sex over the other is inverted by giving control of the situation to the woman, while the man is reduced to a simple phallic commodity. It is thanks to this simplicity that Lach-Lachowicz can confront the world we inhabit.
To an artist like Natalia LL, who considers the body to be the center and origin of the spirit and intellect, it is extremely important to give sensuality and the feminine condition the place it deserves within our society, not that of the body as a simple object, but rather a strong institution that has the power to transform or eliminate any label.
If you want to know more about femininity in media, check out this article on female-centric cinema.
Translated by Joseph Reiter