Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Side of Eroticism

The translation of two reviews on Joel Simpson's photography in Paris

From the Journal Montmartre à la une, reviewed by Nicole Behrakis, November, 2008

Du côté de l’Erotisme, un musée (On the Side of Eroticism: A Museum)

Once more we discovered and savoured the talent of two incredible artists who have made this venue an indispensable stop for strollers, curiosity-seekers and above all art lovers. Joel Simpson and Lauren Benaim, both of them talented photographers, plunge us into their respective phantasms, without restriction, forgetting our boundaries, our taboos, our inhibitions, opening for us, even just for a moment, the view from behind their lenses.

Advice to longtime fans of the Museum! Run to the fourth floor and let yourself be seduced by this curious American, Joel Simpson, who instead of depicting women dressed in conventional apparel, prefers to cover their bodies in eroded rock, in dry and crevassed wood, or with vegetables and ageless minerals, resulting in living and inanimate bodies exalted by the artist’s fascination for geology and anthropology: he thus manages to create a violent and sensual osmosis of substances. Architecture takes on the stigmata of nudity; photography assumes the allures of Galatea, and in this morphological coitus everything seems integral and indissociable.

The Second Review:
By May Soon from Nouveaux Couples December, 2008, translated by Joel Simpson

Virtual Sculptures: Mineralized women’s bodies, or combining them with architectural monuments, it’s the curious work of an American photographer currently showing in Paris

Joel Simpson has been doing photography since 1961. First he pursued studies in literature, that took him to Lyon, Siena and Berlin, ending up finally teaching in the US. His photography always stayed with him, and in 2002 he declared himself a professional. He has shown his works in New York, New Jersey, Texas and Massachusetts. His “virtual sculpture,” as he calls them, are currently being shown at the Museum of Eroticism of Paris through March 27, 2009.

These body projections, projections of images on women’s bodies, combine his fascination for the female body, geology, paleontology on one hand, and for sculpture and surrealism on the other. The images play with the viewer’s perception, drawing it into a universe that evolves from the believable to the extraordinary.

“I was aiming for a believable result. It’s the miracle of projection: the details of the image become constituent parts of the body....The challenge is to combine the images in such a way that both the projected image and the body are clearly discernible....The resulting illusion is immensely satisfying to me.”

His work divides into three movements: Virtual Sculpture proper: the Rock-Women who evoke prehistoric art although their poses are quite modern; Extraordinary Adornment, impossible images that create “an attractive fiction, like the Leaf-woman, a wink at Magritte”; and finally the Metamorphoses of the Body—the combination [image/body] is impossible and the superimposition of the image upon the forms of the body creates a comic effect. “Humor is an important element in my art. If I can put some in, I’m very satisfied”— “a rather subtle and implicit humor,” he adds.

Humor, sensuality and an emotional quest across time and matter [—this is the thrust of his work.—trans.] Many of his virtual sculptures refer to the relief sculpture of the Venus [called the Vénus 3—trans.] sculpted in the [paleolithic frieze] of the Roc-aux-Sorciers at Angles-sur-l’Anglin (Vienne), that he photographed en 2006, taking care to underscore the aesthetic over the scientific aspect of this discovery. This paleolithic sculpture testifies, for this lover of archaeology and anthropology, to the common intelligence that we share with prehistoric people.

“I’m fascinated by abstract art, since it offers us ways of visually imagining internal emotions.” This encounter between the world projected and the nude body gives visual form to emotions that would otherwise not be seen. The images coming from the outside are in reality re-transcriptions [or rather homologies—trans.] of internal emotions...
What is he working on now? This past summer the artist discovered the Craters of the Moon [National Monument—trans.] in Idaho. Since this revelation he projects images of lava on naked bodies.
Joel Simpson exhibits in the Musée de l’érotisme of Paris.

Le Musée de l’érotisme: a serious institution who gives plenty of space to humor!

Open seven days a week until 2 am, the Musée de l’érotisme should not be missed: seven floors of exceptional expositions and unique in France.

It opened its doors in 1977 thanks to two devotees of the history of eroticism of all times. Alain Plumey, the curator, and his friend Jo Khalifa, managed to amass a very substantial collection of art works and craft-object from all over the world. During their farflung travels they brought together a unique collection of objects devoted to sexuality: statuettes dedicated to rites of passage, sculptures from all over Africa, Indian illustrations of the Kama-Sutra. One also finds there extremely rare pieces from the Far East, such as The Pillow-Book...

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