Photography has the power to capture the emotional, the physiological, and the sensations of its subjects. For artists like Sarah Ann Johnson using a camera is more than clicking the shutter and developing the film and hanging it in a pretty frame. It’s about her artistic journey and capturing the most intimate moments between couples engaged in a sexual act, and then, adorning each image with her personal touches of glitter, ink and scratches-—placing us, the viewer, in the voyeur role.
Sarah Ann Johnson wanted to create works that are both personal and vulnerable. Rather than using herself, she enlisted the help of friends and acquaintances. She captured them in a variety of sex acts to include masturbating, cuddling, sleeping, kissing and fucking. After completing the set of images, she would make each intimate moment her own. Rather than showing the emotions of her subjects, Sarah Ann Johnson projects her own feelings onto each photograph. Not meant to be abstract, the imagery conveys orgasm, passion, pain, and love.
The act of sex bleeds through her transformed figures while the sexual energies remain frozen in time. Couples entwine with their bodies spattered with stars. A tantric energy dome hovers over a masturbating woman. Scratched white shards explode in a nimbus around thrusting buttocks.
All of these images seem to offer a separate kind of frenzy from the hawk-eyed posturing of art world see-and-be-seen: the passion of two lovers, hands and mouths quickening and slowing across each others’ skin. The manipulated photographs reveal a softly day-lit tessellation which lies somewhere in between sweet and voracious.
The good news is none of Johnson’s subjects protested at the treatment she gave them. It’s easy to see why. Her interventions are never violent or grotesque, nor disgusting or hungry. Rather, Sarah Ann Johnson leaves behind the shimmering hope that lust can coexist with love.
To see more work by Sarah Ann Johnson, check out her site here.