When it comes to human sexuality many of us have barely scratched the surface. Whether you’re gay, straight, or fall anywhere in between, there is a never ending catalogue of kinks out there and it would be a daunting task to cover them all. Well, that’s exactly what fashion photographer Matt Ford endeavoured to do with his latest exhibition. Opening this week at East London’s Espacio Gallery, VOYEUR: Stories, Portraits and S*X, presents a collection of photographic and video portraits of creatives showcasing the wide array of fetishes that get them off. Hoping to not only destigmatise topics that the mainstream still dub as taboo, the photographer also hopes to inspire and educate anyone curious about kink.
‘I made a long list of fetishes in my diary,’ explains the Liverpudlian image-maker on how this project started. ‘I said, “Let's tick all those boxes”. I haven’t even done a quarter of them’. Found mostly through social media and recommendations from London’s leading leather and latex store Fetish Daddy Gear, Ford assembled a diverse cast of kinksters with a myriad of sexual interests. While the idea of getting to see sensationalised shots of pup play and bondage should be enough to get anyone to trek to Shoreditch, the aim for Ford is to change the public's perception of kink. ‘It's a celebration of individuality. People owning, and being unashamed of their sexuality.’
While the goal of the show is to inspire questions about sexuality and sexual practices that are often vilified, for many of Ford’s subjects they relish being part of the fringes. ‘It's not about normalising it, it's letting the general public see that it’s not bad or evil. It's just different'. VOYEUR follows his last exhibition, Prints For Queers, which saw some of East London’s leading nightlife personalities like the model and go-go dancer Ashleigh Reece, and Trans Pride London founder Lucia Blayke pose to raise money for queer charity Rainbow Railroad. It was through this project that Ford first got curious about the kink community and met many of his subjects.
Along with the images on display, throughout the week Ford will also host a number of events. On Wednesday artist, designer, and Central Saint Martins instructor Joshua Beaty will lead a life drawing class featuring club kids and go-go dancers Reece and Cain in the ultimate display of exhibitionism. Letting some of his subjects explain their world in their own words, on Thursday there will be a live panel discussion with four prominent sex workers as they break down issues related to the sexy industry including censorship and safety. While public perception of the world of kink is often discussed, this panel will also shed light on the inner workings and politics within the community itself. For Ford, presenting the kink community in an irreverent and educational way was the crux of his exhibition. ‘It's for people who aren’t in the kink community as much as it is for people who are’, he explains.
VOYEUR: Stories, Portraits and S*X is open from 28 November to 4 December. Get all the details on mattfordstudio.com