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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Not so hideous kinky: A conversation with photographer Gracie Hagen

Posted By on 06.04.13 at 01:20 PM

Sex and Sustenance
  • Gracie Hagen
  • Sex and Sustenance
I was introduced to the work of Chicago photographer Gracie Hagen yesterday when I saw "No Judgements Here," her series of images depicting various sexual fetishes. After first seeing the photographs, I found myself wondering why the image of a grown man in a diaper felt so life affirming, or why the sight of a woman who appears to have intentionally pissed herself gave me faith in the greater good. Then I realized it was Hagen—and the perspective she offered—that I was responding to. Hagen takes a very humane view of something most of us would profess to rather not see. She creates almost clinical representations of each fetish, stripping them of their outré shock value and leaving us to consider the human beings at the center of it all. I wanted to share Hagen's work and a bit of the conversation we had about it.

Sarah Nardi: Having just seen your work, I'm struck by the fact that it's such sexual subject matter, but it's not sexy. It's very human, very frank. You seem to have taken a really empathetic view of something that's easy for "normal" people to dismiss as deviant.

Gracie Hagen: What I wanted to do for this particular series is have a portrait representation of each particular fetish, almost like a visual dictionary definition. I have a lot of nudity in my work and I never want it to be sexual because that's not the point or idea I'm trying to convey. It's more about the human body and us as a society becoming more comfortable with nudity itself. And also the acceptance of all body types.

Chosen Guardians
  • Gracie Hagen
  • Chosen Guardians

What led you to become interested in visual definitions of fetishes?

Just like nudity, fetishes are taboo. I wanted to tackle a sexual subject without any sexuality and show it to people, open up a dialogue and try to normalize it. Everyone has quirks, they shouldn't be things we can't talk about. The more we talk about these types of things, the less "weird" they are to people and therefore, the less judgment.

Sports of the Water
  • Gracie Hagen
  • Sports of the Water

Did you work with people who have knowledge of this kind of lifestyle? Do interviews? How did you go about developing a perspective?

I knew about all of them but I did research each fetish. I didn't want to go off half-cocked. FetLife is a good source of information and discussion. It's a site for people who are into the kinky lifestyle. My perspective has always been to convey the essentials of the fetish. The model is just the vessel for the definition, they aren't supposed to add anything to it.

Drawn Desires
  • Gracie Hagen
  • Drawn Desires

Do you think fetishes taken as a whole tell us anything about human nature?

If anything, they show how we as human beings are creative. I'm always amazed by the things we do. We're simple, yet complex creatures.

Looning
  • Gracie Hagen
  • Looning

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