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From the Publisher
What should we make of a project in which several dozen Asian women -- well-educated, independent, liberated, experimentally minded, and certainly familiar with the stereotype of the submissive Asian female -- volunteer to participate in the production of highly stylized fine-art photographic images by a non-Asian male in which they appear nude and elegantly, often intricately, bound? In the B&D scene, one speaks of dominants as "tops" and submissives as "bottoms." So I could propose that, in the parlance of that sexual preference, these women are "topping from below": not just participating consensually but actually controlling the scenario, and thus the imagery, while ostensibly surrendering all power to another. I could instead describe it as a collaborative form of body art, in which artist/photographer and model/performer join forces as partners to generate potent iconic imagery addressing the complex relationship of physical and psychological constraint and release, restriction versus freedom, control and abandon, the dynamic tension between feminine and masculine energies. Alternatively, I could analogize these works to the experimental Japanese dance form called butoh, in which motion and activity periodically resolve in suddenly frozen, dramatic configurations. Or propose it as a branch of sumi-e, classic Japanese ink-brush painting, wherein precise execution of spontaneous gestures results from meditative inner sources in combination with careful, patient preparation. From a different perspective, I could suggest that, for both the photographer and his subjects, this represents a form of play: play with each other, play with cultural assumptions, play with the body, play with the medium of photography, play with the minds of the viewers of these pictures. I could point out that these pictures exemplify the traditional values of classic creative studio photography -- formal exploration, spatial drama, nuanced lighting, concern with chiaroscuro, attention to textural detail -- while investigating that creative territory in which the artist's inventiveness and the imaginative function of the libido find common ground. However we consider them, these dualities and contradictions resolve and these partnerships succeed. Together, Steven Speliotis and his accomplices construct a microcosm in which they move through and past stereotypes into a zone of unexpected freedom and mutual empowerment. By offering these visions for our consideration, they invite us to join them there. So, finally, I could recommend that we let these images speak for themselves, and listen to the subtle resonances of the varied voices in which they do so.
A. D. Coleman¬
About the Author
About Steven Speliotis
Steven Speliotis first became recognized as a professional photographer in Salem,Ma. Where he was hired to photograph the Salem State College Dance Company's Annual Dance Concert and the S.S.C. Theatre Department's yearly productions. Steven's studies also include: Ballet & Modern Dance, Sculpture and Art History. His early photographs of dance & portraiture were exhibited in several juried shows and won him much acclaim. As a young photographer, Steven was... read more
Several dozen Asian women -- well-educated, independent, liberated, experimentally-minded, and familiar with the stereotype of the submissive Asian female -- volunteered to participate in this highly- stylized fine art. In these photographic images by a non-Asian male, they appear elegantly nude and often intricately bound, often not just participating consensually but actually controlling the scenario, and thus the imagery, while ostensibly surrendering all power to another. These images are * a collaborative form of body art * exemplify the traditional values of classic creative studio photography -- formal exploration, spatial drama, nuanced lighting, concern with chiaroscuro, attention to textural detail These unusual partnerships succeed, the photos a microcosm in which they move through and past stereotypes into a zone of une