March 28 2020

The history of traditional portraiture was about status and branding. Atrophy Portraits is about breaking down those layers of constructed perfection. This series is an exploration of power and submission, how the boundaries between those roles seem to be fixed but are often more fluid. What it means to be the subject, to be observed and to meet that gaze.

>> watch Atrophy Portraits III

For the first two parts of this series we’ve had women as the subject and the submissive. For this third instalment we wanted to change that dynamic. The London Vagabond is the art project of Miss Gold and her toilet - they're artists, lovers, parents and perverts - a real life couple making work in London about sex, fetish and life at the margins. They met 4 years ago in a whirlwind romance of debauchery and now years later they’re partners in life and art, raising kids together and documenting their life, sex and community.

This was actually their first time being shot together on video by someone else and I’m so grateful for their trust with this because I know how difficult it is to give up some control over your image to someone else for the first time. My very favourite kind of domination is one that’s effortless and delivered with a smile and a raised eyebrow which is exactly Miss Gold. I've showed her to so many of my friends and they've all fallen in love, not only is she hot and scary (the best kind of hot) she's a sweetheart who cooked me dinner when I was hungover and pathetic the first time we met.

They seamlessly transition in and out of brutality to laughing and taking the piss out of each other, the kind of intimacy that takes time and years to build and although it might not look like initially like what you’d see on a valentines day card (she told me how she rarely really kisses him, he countered that she "had just then in the shower") their connection is simultaneously totally intense and effortlessly domestic, all the best things.

The idea of this series is to set up a traditional a portrait subject, lit for beauty and staring out to the gaze of the camera and to the audience watching and then… fuck them up. Day slides into darkness and the facade slips. Whereas submissive women are presumed to be passive, detached receivers of the desires of others, submissive men have a reputation for being pathetic, begging babies and that the women they serve only put up with them for money. This isn’t always the case. The idea that women just facilitate male desire is false, I love to see someone who wants to serve. The power in submission, and what that means - and the potential for transcendence in consensual degradation is powerful. Endurance is powerful. Subverting perfection is powerful.

Women can want and do “bad things”

"I’m really in to the filthier side of degradation, I like to be humiliated, belittled, bullied and objectified. I want to be treated with the upmost disrespect. I want you to take away my human rights, make me feel totally worthless. Slap me, spit at me, rub my nose in your unwashed arsehole, piss on me, use me as human toilet paper, walk all over me, force me to lick the discharge from your dirty underwear, suffocated me beneath your arsehole, train me to worship your natural scent, walk all over me, kick me in balls, make me beg, publicly humiliate me, call me whatever comes to mind whether that be a slave, bitch, cunt or just a fucking toilet.

Take away my ego."

Ok, so let’s talk piss. Here in the UK they just lifted a law that said that piss on film is obscene and prohibited, we have a few films that feature it (the first of them being the original Atrophy Portraits with Moth and Rust) but this film is the absolute…pissiest - what a way to celebrate our new found freedom. By the end of the shoot we were all sliding around in huge lakes of the stuff on the floor. Miss Gold has literally THE STRONGEST AND LONGEST FLOW I have ever seen in my life - a true natural. If you’re not into seeing people drink, play with, lick and consume LITRES of the stuff - this probably isn’t going to be the film for you. If you are, or you’re curious, come inside and be impressed.

(please tell me you can see how wet the floor is here)

I saw an incredible performance called Golden Flux by an artist and sex worker called Marianne Chargois talking about her relationship between alchemy, dominance, money and sex work. The performative spectacle of pissing is something often defined by masculinity so seeing Marianne’s performance reframed it in my mind as something magical, powerful - a precious, distilled elixir.

The artist Helen Chadwick made sculptures that were cast in bronze from her piss holes in the snow called Piss Flowers, what Miss Gold says in this is that she loves the idea of someone appreciating her waste, the very worst part of herself. This ability to transform your basest, most repulsive excretions into precious liquid, begged for and desired or expensive art work to sit in a gallery is true alchemy.

I wanted to share some images from this old dutch (?) adult mag about Piss Fetish called UROLAGNIE stuff as inspiration, the first image is my absolute favourite.

here's the images they shot on set while we were shooting!
53630011.JPG 1.04 MB

The score for this film is by Andy Gibbs (of Thou) made specifically for this project using a combination of samples of the native audio, Duke of Burgundy samples and ASMR bible readings. Truly everything I like. You can check out more of his solo stuff as Supplicate here.

Miss Gold and her toilet

Andy Gibbs

Urolagnie magazine
Golden Flux, Marianne Chargois
Piss Flowers, Helen Chadwick (1991-1992)

D/s, impact, degradation, piss, humiliation, verbal mention of scat,