11 - 28 March 2015

Opening Night | Thursday 12 March 6-8pm

Anastasia Booth

Towards (dis)Satisfaction playfully interrogates representations of gender and sexuality through specific cultural groups. Employing strategies of subversion, abstraction and appropriation, the exhibition reimagines the objects and material products from certain fetish, bdsm and divergent communities. Reconstructing these visual codes through the formal and theoretical language of sculptural practice. By engaging these hybrid dialogues, the works speak to the problematic, humorous and often paradoxical relationship between feminine depiction and the languages surrounding sexual deviancy.


IMAGES | Anastasia Booth Medusa, 2014, Synthetic hair, glass, sequins, plastic sheet and steel | Images courtesy of the artist. 


Anastasia Booth’s work explores divergent sexual practices through objects that imply narrative. It is not one that is clear or prescriptive, through the use of materials and objects that reference fetish or BDSM apparatuses it is a story of the sculptures and what they may do or more specifically, do to you. The exploration of deviating sexual practices is not a world I am overly familiar with but through my own performative video work (exploring psychological fantasy) another narrative becomes clearer, a narrative about escape, reshaping and re-negotiating reality.

There is a difference between reality and fantasy, as there is a difference between fetish and fantasy but they depend on each other. In a symbiotic relationship, you cannot have one without the other. Fantasy uses imagined narratives to reconstruct reality. They can be intentionally pursued or spontaneously manifested from the unconscious. Sigmund Freud recognised fantasy as a tool to express repressed desires, crucial in play, creative thinking and art making.[1] Hanna Segal explained in Phantasy and Reality that we indulge in fantasy every time we imagine and create desires, hopes, retaliations, stories, romances and art. Fantasy can perform as a complex psychological mechanism, as an escape, as a compulsion, reconstructing reality through a mode of being, believing and behaving.

The first hunger (desire) and the instinctual thriving to satisfy that hunger are accompanied by the phantasy of an object capable of satisfying that hunger. There is a symbolic process that takes place, like in all desires we wish that thing was there, that person, that satisfaction but when this becomes confused with belief and the need to make that object (or) person part of yourself to keep it present you leave reality and enter into fantasy.[2]

This object in Booth’s work, the object that takes you into fantasy is not as obvious as just an erotic tool for sexual gratification, it is what that tool does psychologically and the escape it provides. German philosopher Hans- George Gadamer in exploring the complexities of ‘being’ explains the concept of play in art- where viewers can be free from the constraints of themselves and their reality to enter into and experience a new reality, to play with reality by ‘playing along’ with the work. This play can be fun entertainment or more serious investigation. If the viewer plays along with the work, they will let themselves be drawn into it and fully enter its imaginary world.[3] In Booth’s work this playful act and narrative works in a few ways- as described by Gadamer, an imaginary exchange is enacted with the represented tool of sexual practice where the viewer bestows it with an imagined narrative, taking them both to a new reality. Or in another instance one is left trying to contextualise the motivations and usages for the represented erotic articles, revealing the artist’s personal play and exploration. Our psychology and sexuality can be very problematic especially when we try to grasp or dabble in things that are multifaceted and complex. This is where art objects function as tools of experimentation and release. As someone may use BDSM to escape the difficult terrain of reality, we may use our art to escape our escapisms themselves. Booth may grapple with her own difficult sexual desires, fantasies and fetishes but she can explore their problematic nature in the safety of her work. In preparation for this essay, Anastasia introduced me to the idea of frame analysis developed by the late Irving Goffman. Frames are related to scripts, a set of ways to read and interpret a situation, to put a frame around it. With rules, values and expectations that once in a particular frame allow freedom to suspend reality.[4] In the context of BDSM this includes the frame of consensuality, the situation no matter how it may seem is within known and agreed parameters. But it is also a frame of escape, a way for people to forget themselves and release pressure. To indulge in the engrossables, experiences and materials so involving that you can be caught up or carried away by them.[5] Which also so readily lends itself to the frame of viewing and creating art works, a set of parameters where the artist and the viewer like the dominatrix and submitter can play with reality, test it, ignore it, escape it, question it, dominate it and subject it to or be subjected by whatever they like, safe in the knowledge they can stop when they want, or maybe that too is just a fantasy.


[1] Fantasy noun, Concise Encyclopaedia

[2] Hanna Segal, ‘Phantasy and Reality’, (ed) Richard Steiner, Unconscious Phantasy Karnac Books Ltd, London, 2003, pp.201-9.

[3] Jean Grodin, Play, Festival and Ritual in Gadamer, Lexington books, 2001, p.44.

[4] Marianne Apostolides, ‘The Pleasure of Pain’, Psychology Today, September, 1999.

[5] Ruth Rettie, Using Goffman’s Frameworks to explain Presence and Reality, Kingston University, 2004, p.118.