Photolucida: Lindsey Beal: Intimate Applicances
Women’s sexuality is a subject that is seldom approached in a direct and uncharged way. A woman expressing sexuality is always judged differently than a man doing the same thing. After seeing the movie Hysteria several years ago, in which Hugh Dancy plays an early twentieth century doctor who is very successful at “relieving tension” in his women patients, it became clear to me that there has been a subculture of women’s pleasure for a very long time. Photographer Lindsey Beal calls attention to this history with her project Intimate Appliances. Lindsay just closed a solo show, Transmission, at the Griffin Museum of Photography’s Griffin Gallery. The show consisted of artist books and cyanotypes embedded in resin & Petri dishes and displayed in shadowboxes.
Lindsey is a photo-based artist in Providence, Rhode Island. She has an M.F.A. in Photography from the University of Iowa and a Certificate in Book Arts at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book. Her work has been shown at national museums, galleries, and universities and is included in various public & private collections. Her work combines historical & contemporary women’s lives with historical photographic processes. She is interested in the photograph as an object and often includes sculpture, papermaking and artist books into her work.
Since the 19th century, women have used technology as a way to experience sexual pleasure. Mechanical, hydraulics, steam, and electricity have all powered the “personal massagers” that appeared in the appliance section of department stores and catalogues. Changes in technology create changes in vibrator materials, power-sources and design; vibrators reflect an era’s technology as well as its pop-culture. This is as true today as the past; current vibrators reflect the digital age. Although the appliances photographed are now antiques, they were once an example of that era’s technology.
This project would not have been possible without the generous cooperation of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
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