Susan Clarahan at Jarvis Hall Gallery, Calgary
Landscape and bodies thrive and collide in Erotic Nature, a series of sensual and sexy colour photographs by Susan Clarahan currently on display at Jarvis Hall Gallery as part of the Exposure Photography Festival. The Canmore-based artist positions her models diversely, rolling them over, sitting them up or inviting them to kneel, exposing rear ends or crotches in moments of radical consent. Nipples are revealed under mesh bodysuits and sequins grace autonomous beings caught mid-action about to pounce on a lover in a gesture of joy and rapture. In Portals to Other Portals, two bodies lean into each other, mimicking the landscape around them, a Pacific Northwest vista. The women resemble the mounds of greenery-infused mountains amongst sea passages in their loving embrace.
Susan Clarahan, Portals to Other Portals, 2018, print from colour negative
Clarahan taps into the erotic, witchy, goddess-invoked power of women and the feminine mystique casting a glimmer of divination throughout her series. She employs a queer aesthetic and feminist lens to focus and intuit the powerful modern woman, offering a framework for discussing feminist issues. Each of her photographs requires the viewer to imagine what preceded and what will follow the captured moment. In each it is clear the women pictured are in full control, delighting in their power and pleasure. It is a series which allows us to relinquish our fears, to celebrate and embrace the power of the sex positive movement.
To accompany the exhibition Clarahan commissioned three writers – Megan Gnanasihamany, Randee Keiver and Sara Torrie – to reflect on the work through poetic interventions that accompany the exhibition in a catalogue publication. Their words along with her photographs succinctly assemble a vision of the erotic.
there is a divine method here but, buried
under the pool of my deliquescing vision, I am
relying on your rules for the pull.
– Megan Gnanasihamany
Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @mcbchanna.