In Audre Lorde’s seminal lecture from 1978, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” from the book Sister Outsider, she beautifully articulates the essential need to return to living within the broadest reaches of creativity, sensuality and intuition. This piece was crafted during the seventies when some Feminists had their own ‘Backlash” again the masculine, but this piece is ultimately a call for all of us to reclaim the power and potential of embracing our connection to ourselves, our work, and others through a broader definition of The Erotic. With primal respect to Ms. Lorde and her original expression I am moving this into inclusive language….
“We have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge….We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused, and devalued in western society. But The Erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the person who does not fear its revelation….The Erotic is a measure between the beginning of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.…It is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing…We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.”
My work is Erotic. It is also a political act to live from deep within a radical and simple return to each of our authentic knowing.
When I began my self-portrait photography it was a way to explore my own sense of power and identity through the camera lens. I was still in the resurrection process after my husband’s death from cancer, and most of my ideas about life, stability, trust, safety, justice, hope, faith, and love had been blown apart. The initial Earthen Body photographs were my search for who this woman was now that she had been thrust out of the castle. I had been ensconced in the Princess/Knight “white-picket-fence” paradigm, and now had been released to find my own truths.
I used the ritualistic photographic process to claim who I was beyond external opinions or expectations. Because I was alone, I was able to really open up and release most of the self-consciousness I can be controlled by. This new woman was much fiercer and more intense than I had previously recognized.
What I really came into contact with during my work was my own internal sense of The Erotic. By being nude and exposed on the land I remembered a deep knowing of my place within the earth. I was the soil and the raven and the stream; my boundaries became permeable and I returned to the oneness of all that is.
I gratefully “lost” the sense of self that can be constricting and became a wild and free dervish on the land. It was a place where I can meet the “chaos of my strongest feelings” in a non-linear, visceral, primal way that allows movement and integration from those unconscious and hidden realms.
I also reenter the sacred place of joy and union that is constantly available through stepping deeply into anything that makes us really alive. I stepped into The Erotic.
This blossoming into my passionate creativity opened the doorways for The Painted Body images here in New Mexico that have been some of the richest work I have done to date. When we open to our larger potentials, we never know what may magically and blessedly materialize. My emergence into my Erotic Self has transformed every aspect of my life from dancing to dreaming, to loving and grieving. I am awake, and it’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a blessed journey we are on, and I want to experience all the twists and turns.
This is Eroticism lived.