- Text by Ione Gamble
“I was not seeing myself represented in popular media, and if my body was being represented, it was the butt of the joke,” says Lauren Crow, the California-based artist who first picked up the camera to help make objective sense of her “young, fat, queer body.”
When it comes to fat bodies in visual culture, visibility is – to put it generously – lacking. Porn and sexual imagery, though, is a whole other ball game: at best, plus size people are festishised, at worst, we’re ridiculed. However, by using her own body as the impetus, Crow is looking to change that.
Through her publication Lascivious, Crow takes queues from bygone eras to reset the agenda on how we explore our desires. Operating as a modern day porn magazine, it sees glossy, high production values offset by grainy, harshly lit imagery harking back to the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Lascivious was just a logical way for me to organise and present about a year’s worth of images I was shooting,” she says.
Although the publication began with an initial focus on Crow herself, her gaze has since widened. Depicting all bases of sexual behaviour from snogging to squirting, Lascivious prioritises consent when it comes to casting models.
Establishing boundaries and fostering a relationship based on mutual respect is key when it comes to photographing people’s most private moments. “While I know there are no 100 percent safe spaces, I am eager to have a detailed discussion prior to shooting, to let the model know they are in control.”
For Crow, sex and sexual imagery itself isn’t her primary interest. She’s more interested in intimacy in a much larger sense – be it platonic, romantic, or sexual. “What doesn’t fascinate me about intimacy?” she says. “It is such a multi-layered, beautiful, weird and complex thing that exists, lacks, ebbs and flows in every single person’s life.”
And while her work may have vastly expanded since her first self portraits, she finds that even the photographs she takes of others ultimately end up revealing something to – or about – herself. “Looking through my work” she says, “I am able to see my mental health and personal relationship with intimacy reflected back to me.”
See more of Lauren Crow’s work on her official website.
Follow Ione Gamble on Twitter.