Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 1993
Posted on January 24, 2015 by Jennie Shapira
For me, eroticism tickles the uncomfortable; it’s the delicate play of contrasting feelings of ease and unease. It’s the product of a dichotomy between overt sexuality and something that both pushes you back and draws you in. What defines erotic as erotic is precisely this interaction. The concept of seeing only enough to force you to fill in the rest plays strongly with my views of eroticism, allowing a not-fully nude image to sometimes be more sexually driven than one where everything is purely raw.
As a deeper conversation with the viewer occurs, the creation of a scene which beckons for an accompanying narrative causes the interaction to deepen. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the story is the same as the stories imagined by all the others, nor the story imagined by the subject at the time of creation, as long as it is one that spawns a desire to know the character and know how the depicted situation managed to occur. In order to embody these themes and appropriately have them relate to the ‘philo’ environment, I imagined one half of the dynamic play to involve the concept of purity and intellectual soundness. The Philomathean Halls, of the University of Pennsylvania are gilded with knowledge, so a fair counter would be that’s slightly disturbing and somewhat scandalous, which would eject itself from the ‘ivy-bubble’ as much as possible.
To show eroticism, I plan to pose myself in an uncomfortable, tied up fashion, as if just left in this building, for non-specific torture to ensue. Such would invoke much internal conversation, a discomfort with the image, and a great contrast with the neat, orderly, olden feel of a library.
Portraits of Jennie Shapira by Tony Ward, Copyright 2015
Editor’s Note: The Philo Project|Interpretations of Erotica consists of a series of images and essays of and by members of the University of Pennsylvania’s Philomathean Society.