The Simple, the Violent, the Instantaneous Beauty of Sex
Interview from City Pictorial issue 16, 2009
Text by Zouzou
City Pictorial (CP): Are you interested in Sex as a subject?
No. 223: You can take a look at my works www.linzhipeng223.com, Iʼve been photographing the subjects of Youth and Sex (Growth and Ambiguity).
CP: Iʼve seen them. Photographing it necessarily proves that youʼre interested in it.
No. 223: What do I do with them if I am not interested?
CP: Many people started photography by being told what to do. So Iʼd like to know what was the moment like, when you first realized youʼre interested in the subject?
No. 223: It wasnʼt even a moment; I should say ever since I entered my teenage, I began to be interested in sex. As for photography, it was something afterwards. At first I was into taking pictures, then I felt the life of myself and my friends is beautiful, so I began shooting them again and again. So I wasnʼt intentional to pick materials that are related to sex, just most of my interests are related to my own growth, the contents are from my daily life, including the very personal part.
CP: What aspects of Sex are you interested in? For example, physical or spiritual, the extrinsic areas like the touch and visions, or some kind of a literary metaphor?
No. 223: I am interested in both physical and spiritual parts, but perhaps most people are attracted to the physical shapes of my pictures. As for SEX, I prefer a violent and immediate way of expression, but at the same time, being sensitive at heart, I also love a lot of things that represents the spiritual side, which may appear more often outside of “pure sex” scope, but actually, even within the scope of sex there are a lot of sensitivity elements.
CP: You are looking to create a kind of “original beauty”, which is against ordinary orders and common sense, and even a bit destructive. In the aspect of sex, how do you present it?
No. 223: Iʼve always pursued a natural method of photography, no matter in what aspect. The same for the sex topics, of course, I still follow my “simple, violent, and immediate” routine, I donʼt quite like mannerist metaphoric expressions of sex, which takes too much efforts. Of course Iʼd love to try different ways of expression, not every time I have to be direct and straightforward. But Iʼd like to see how people comprehend different pictures, for instant, someone used to think one of my works of a bitten strawberry is “sexual”, this is a nice way of understanding it, or maybe itʼs because I usually put more attention on food when I take pictures about sex.
CP: Why do you connect sex with food? more specifically, with fruits?
No. 223: At the subconscious level, Iʼve always thought that food has a lot to do with lust. The sexiness of the image between the lips is no less than the limps and organs. I read a book these days, Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, I realized that how the author understands lust has a lot in common with me. So whether itʼ s fruits or drinks or bread or salad, I like shooting them all, especially those interact with lips, teeth and body.
CP: Photographing sex and experiencing sex yourself, is there any difference?
No. 223: If you tell from the way to conduct sex, thereʼs not much difference. But if you talk about sex and lust in terms gender, male sex and female sex are very different. I took some pictures of girlsʼ sex in their personal life, much of the experience I cannot have. And while we were shooting, although there is a lot of sexual content, I, at the moment, looked at it from a viewerʼs perspective but not a participant.
CP: Did you get excited? After all, camera is a very violent and immediate male instrument.
No. 223: Iʼve had mental excitement, but not physical excitement for sex. Because even sometimes thereʼs bold nudity in front of me, I think when I look at something through the lens, they are still beautiful.
CP: Do you like Araki Nobuyoshiʼs photography on sex?
No. 223: Iʼd prefer his lifestyle photos, such as lovers, subways and streets, etc.
CP: What kind of language do you use in your sex photography?
No. 223: I am more into a simple, violent and immediate aesthetics that has a lot relation to life, I look for photography that can develop stories, although it still takes a lot of work to do, hope I can achieve that step by step.
CP: What do you mean by simple, violent and immediate? To make the object face to face to the camera, or completely unfiltered expression?
No. 223: Itʼs about the expression of techniques; itʼs natural and undecorated, from an outsiderʼs perspective it seems like very violent and bare expression. Because there are too many people show sex in their pictures in a very obscure way, perhaps they think obscurity will make it look nicer, but I think baldness makes it more beautiful. Itʼs your life, like when you have sex, itʼs better to feel the touch of skin without the clothes on.
CP: Do you take pictures of professional models or just of your acquaintances?
No. 223: Almost all of them are my friends, most of them I know well, some I donʼt know quite much, but weʼre all friends.
CP: Maybe the distance and obscurity can arouse more lust? Lust can be exhausted, after the lust has done, youʼll need a lot of imagination to take its place, right? Your preference to take pictures of ambiguous and spiky youth and sex, itʼs probably related to your current age? Can we expect lust and the solution to lust to be straightforward and predictable?
No. 223: I think so, itʼs about the people I relate to, perhaps when I reach middle age, all my friends will be about the same age, then Iʼll shoot something different. However, I never take pictures to arouse the viewerʼs lust. I care more about expressing an idea through my personal aesthetics, appeals and experiences.
CP: For you, photography is a fair sex, or it has been imposed with something? After all, sometimes the objects being shot were placed by someone.
No. 223: I truly hope itʼs a fair sex, but in many occasions the objects might think I am trying to impose something on them. So apart from using snapshots, sometimes almost like sneak shots, as my main method, I try to make the objects trust me, therefore when they see the camera they can be more relaxed. However, sometimes I do have something to impose on the photography, in such occasion, it will be a lot more about my personal expression.
CP: But when the objects become relaxed in front of camera, thereʼ s a performance element involved. Doesnʼt it contradicts your pursuit of simple, immediate and violent method?
No. 223: What it means to be relaxed in front of camera is to let him/her to remove the wariness against camera, treat the camera as if it is not there. Thereʼs no need to perform, they should just act as usual like in their daily life.
CP: Now, your question for the next interviewee?
No. 223: When you have sex, a dildo, a bottle of baby oil, a banana, an ice cream cone, a set of fetish dress and a glass table, which one would you choose for foreplay (make a order), and how?
CP: Ha ha ha...this is the best question Iʼve ever heard!
No. 223: Is it? Ha, I just revealed all my sexual fantasies completely.