Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Exhibitions.

Thrusting a taboo topic under the spotlight, Sydney artist Simon Bernhardt unleashes a new portrait exhibition, BDSM, at Black Eye Gallery in Darlinghurst.

For the uninitiated, the exhibition’s acronym namesake is a blanket term for a range of erotic role-play practices including bondage, dominance, submission and sadomasochism. Coinciding with Sydney’s Mardi Gras Festival, Bernhardt’s exhibition gets up close and personal with a kinky cross-section of local BDSM community members, to unravel some of the more commonly held stereotypes about BDSM.

A fine art and commercial photographer, Bernhardt explained: “There is a certain misconception associated with BDSM – that practitioners are somehow perverted and guilty of abhorrent fetishes. BDSM showcases practitioners on a journey of sexual discovery, while allowing people to learn more about how they came to be excited by things outside ‘mainstream’ sexual expression.”

Avoiding the easy path of objectification, Bernhardt’s photographic gaze scratches beneath the masks and leather-clad surfaces to uncover the humanity of his subjects. Outside of their sexual fetishes, most of the portrait subjects lead quite ordinary or even mundane lives – BDSM is their release from the everyday.

“There’s just this amazing kaleidoscope across the spectrum of sexuality,” said one of Bernhardt’s portrait subjects, under the condition of anonymity. “For me it’s all amazing and although there’s a lot of things I don’t personally do, things I’m not into, I love that other people are.”

Liberation, self-empowerment, and pride are common themes that emerge in Bernhardt’s series of 16 portraits and in the corresponding interviews that he conducts with his subjects. (CC)

Mar 3–17. Black Eye Gallery, 3/138 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst. Info: blackeyegallery.com.au 

OPENING NIGHT: March 3, 6-8pm. RSVP: anna@blackeyegallery.com.au