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The Sexuality of Fear was the title for my Final Major Project on the Foundation Art and Design course at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. The project explored the similarities in the anonymity of the Catholic confessional and the anonymity and confession found in sex club dark rooms. They're both places where people discuss and act upon things they wouldn't anywhere else, perhaps because they have some degree of anonymity to hide behind. They're also places where people confront fears but at different levels. I was also interested in exploring how sexual fetishes and general fears and phobias sometimes interlink. The project was also influenced by my job as an adult webcam performer.
The book that accompanies this project is available to buy via Blurb for £15.00. The book contains 50 handwritten secrets and confessions that I collected from members of the public and 25 of my own secrets and confessions, as well as photographs and stills from the installation and video.
Free Live Breakdown
At the beginning of the project, I broadcast live on my Ustream account for two hours as I listened to a playlist of songs that I find emotionally effect me the most (listen on Spotify). This video shows me listening to six songs that effected me the most. A week later, I listened to a playlist made up of songs that turn me on the most (listen on Spotify). I found that there was an overlap and found that some of the most melancholic songs also turned me on.
From February to April 2013 I collected secrets and confessions. I asked people to tell me things that they hadn't told anyone before; secrets and confessions both big and small to do with absolutely anything. I also wanted people to think about their fears and phobias and contemplate on why they might have them. I wanted people to search inside themselves and see if any of these things overlapped into their sexuality. I wanted them to see me as someone that wasn't going to judge them. I wanted people to see it as an opportunity to release feelings that they would usually keep to themselves. I asked people to send me anonymous messages to my Tumblr ask box. I also gave people the chance to post their secret or confession directly into my Confession Box at three different locations in London and Birmingham. The Confession Box was also an important part of my final installation.
Clips of my participatory performance Confessional. I ask the participant two questions. The first question is "What is your fear or phobia?", the second question is "What is your fetish or what turns you on?". I write each participant an sexual act combining the two answers. I hand the note to the participant under the toilet door. I tell the participant that they must act out what I have written in order to get over their fear or phobia. This performance related to how people use sexual acts or fetishes to overcome phobias and also to elements of anonymity and trust found in dark rooms, cruising spaces and confessionals.
Total participants: 17. Filmed at Bar Wotever at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London on April 2nd 2013.
Fall In Love With Me
Video based on Arthur Aron's theory that all it takes for two strangers to fall in love is for them to reveal intimate details to each other and then stare into each others eyes for four minutes. This formed a sort of confessional for me as I revealed things about myself that I'd previously only told a handful of people.
I Have Nothing Left
The idea for this performance piece came to me after working only a week as a webcam performer, as well as after talking to other sex workers about how their job makes them feel. I felt I had nothing left of myself that was private. I felt as if complete strangers had stripped away my identity and personality. I recorded Fall In Love With Me a few days prior to this performance as I wanted it to work alongside I Have Nothing Left; the disclosure of secrets and the feeling of vulnerability. The soundtrack is an instrumental cover version of Suede's Pantomime Horse performed by Felix LeMans of The Choir Invisible, which is one of the songs that both upset me and turned me on.
A silent version of this video was used as part of the final installation at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design Foundation Diploma Final Show in 2013.
© Olivia Sparrow 2012