Before I travelled off to Lowestoft to meet China Hamilton I decided to do some background research specifically surrounding his photographic works. I spent a great deal of time using his website to help me understand the nature of his works. Further more I based the majority of my questions around the only book of his that I own at the moment, ‘Intimate Obsessions’.
Below are the questions:-
EVERYTHING HIGHLIGHTED IN RED HAS BEEN DIRECTLY LIFTED FROM CHINA HAMILTON’S BOOK, ‘INTIMATE OBSESSIONS’.
- At the start of your book there is a poem, what does the poem mean? Here is the poem:-
She Came Again
She came again
to take the dark in hand
and comb it
into curtains of hair
and paint it
like broken shards of dream
on a face we loved
too well to wear
- Explain further the reasoning behind the ‘little chop’? What does it mean to you? Why do you put it on all of you’re pictures?
- In the introduction to your book you write,“I express my subjects through the more challenging & darker sides of their sexuality”. What do you mean by this? BDSM ?
- Further into the introduction you go on to write,“Some of my work is just what you see but, much of it is about questions, each as different and as unanswered as the hidden place behind the mirror”. what do you mean by, ‘the hidden place behind the mirror?
- You then go on to clarify this concept further, “Such questions may be your own reflections, your own darker thoughts, your desires, your fantasies”. Is this what is behind the the mirror?
- The final clarification, “you may be fascinated or disturbed or even indifferent, but if I have succeeded then the picture may hold unanswered questions, may have places you cannot quite discover”. Does this apply to how the viewer perceives the imagery before them? If not who does this apply to then?
- Do you work in any different mediums such as videography, as I have not come across any of these as of yet?
- In the book, ‘Intimate Obsessions’ you talk about how this medium expresses the female form, both pornographically and artistically. Is this your way of defining what erotic photography is? Artistic?
- Where do you feel the line is in terms of pornographic material and erotic material?
- You go on to state in your book that, “Artists must challenge but they must do so always with grace and beauty for our sexuality is a beautiful thing, never vile and degrading”. How would you propose that artists/photographers should go about achieving this?
- In both the book and on your website you state that the camera liberates women. From the research that I emersed myself within over this past year or so, I have been lead into a great amount of feminism history surrounding visual medias. A lot of the material differs yet seems to frequently reverse back to the same conclusion, that most if not all male depictions of the female form are degrading & objectifying. What is your opinion of the feminism issues and ideas surrounding erotic photography?
- Within your introduction you have written a very powerful paragraph,” Women are and always have been, the dominant sex, even though their power is often exercised by stealth from the sidelines, subtle and undetected. Historically perceived male control has been possible only because of the conscious, calculated acquiescence of the female. This force, quite simply, is what attracts me to my subject and I feel it will continue to do so. My personal view, however, is but one small facet of this complex and eternal expression, but in all honestly, I do not control it: rather, I am a channel through which my subjects, women, are at their most liberated and most terrifying. Even when they appear to be submissive and vulnerable they are but playing the consensual power games of their fantasies”. So is it the calculated cleverness of the female subject that attracts you to photographing them?
- What are the contradictions surrounding erotic photography in your own mind?
- A snipped of the introduction that intrigued me, “a transformation that is a sexual fantasy, occurring in a place within us that we fear, yet sometimes must inexorably confront”. Can you explain further what you mean by this?
Here is a link to China Hamiltons website where I researched the great images that he has produced, and read about him. – http://www.chinahamilton.com/index2.html