I was on my way to work and waited for the underground at Bank station. The train came, I got on a carriage and continued reading my book. For whatever reason I lifted my eyes from the page and saw that a very handsome man had come to stand close to me. He was reading something from this phone. I was instantly attracted to him. Flustered I looked down at my book again but I couldn’t read. My mind was filled with flashbacks of making love, of what I wanted to do to him and how I craved to be touched and taken in return, that wave of primal sexual desire. The train stopped and as everyone woke up from their reveries he looked my way. Our eyes met and I did not look away. I did not hide but acknowledged him.
I immediately reproached myself for such a vain thought that anyone, anyone like him, could find me attractive, let alone worth the risk of all the hassle of romantic manoeuvrings. It was only a subjective sensation, a wish that I had projected on him after a rush of desire. This however was one the bravest things I had done – to look at a man and let him know, in that subtle, quiet way that I am attracted to him. I held back my tears as I walked up the escalator because I knew that this, this look, this acknowledgement, was as far in this game that I could get.
During these years I have unconsciously adopted several roles to protect myself. Are they roles, are they masks, shields, coping mechanisms, mere reactions? Are there several, just one or a facet of the many-headed beast of a mental illness? I aim to appear uninterested in men I find attractive, especially if I sense that they are attracted to me. I turn them down, subtly or directly, depending on their approach. I am friendly and polite, even light in my mannerisms but I close myself. I am blank, I am cold and unconcerned. I quite knowingly give out a-sexual vibes even when I am with my female friends. Only to a very few friends I feel safe to admit to having romantic feelings for someone and even then I struggle to find the vocabulary to do so.
I was once told over heavy cigarette smoke what ‘a shrimp’ was: someone whose body was fuckable but whose head you would rather cut off. Next thing I heard was naughty giggling. I wondered but dared not ask if there was a term for the opposite- for someone who has a pretty face but whose body is not fuckable. I have remembered the brashness of it all when I have been taking these nudes of myself. They are sexual, sensual, nude- or rather I am sexual, sensual and nude in those photographs. Some of the props and poses are symbolic while some of them are influenced by my aesthetic taste which brings in its own undercurrent. Some mimic photographs that I have seen and which have stayed in my mind for whatever reason. All in all I am candid, smooth and vulnerable. I reveal and I hide. I am there and I am not. I mostly hide because even though it is a picture of my skin, of me naked it is either so close that my shape cannot be distinguished or it is framed so that the different body parts merge together. And mostly I am not there although I have made myself appear sexually available. Or have I? I am naked and my cropped and twisted body can be surveyed but I don’t show my face.
My art education would demand me to comment on these nudes in a constructive manner. As if I was in control, as if I had a point; there is no space to not conclude. I am bored of such art, already solved and categorized. There is no redemption in these theories and critical point of views because they often have very little relevance in the struggles of real life. Seeing that patriarchal and capitalist beauty myths are being dismantled has been eye-opening but the damage has already been done in me.
I am not sure however if I will present these nudes of myself (as art) at all. I am just venting my fear, sexual frustration, hurt and desire with these photographs. I don’t know what to think when I look at them, I don’t know what to think of myself.