November 15, 2012

Feigenblatt Magazine on Estranged Sex

Today Feigenblatt Magazine Germany publishes a 10 pages articles about Estranged Sex. Not only the text and layout are excellent but extremely generous and kind.

I feel both honored and proud and this reminds me I shall continue the series at once. 


Estranged Sex
Photographies by Sandra Torralba

Impatiently, a woman presses the remote control while next to her a couple has sex. A woman offers her naked body to a man, but breasts and vulva are pornographic plastic imitations. A Playboy Bunny and a big guy with cowboy hat lie together on the bed, absent and perplexed.
"Estranged sex" is the title that the Spanish photographer Sandra Torralba has given to her series of pictures. Estranged, that is to say: the sexuality that once was close has become foreign to us. All 18 photos in the series seem to tell a story, to convey a message. But nothing is free of doubts and ambiguities. In her cinematic obsession with detail Torralba's works appear as excerpts from bizarre films such as David Lynch's: supported by a slight shift in reality which can as well topple over into the threatening as well as into the comic.

"'Estranged Sex' is not distorted, subjective reflection of reality," says Torralba, "but rather a response to a distorted reality." With her work she wants to stimulate to think about sexual taboos and deconstruct pornography: because the bizarre has become normal and the natural has become alien. Each image tries to address a different aspect of sexuality and provokes to think and/or laugh: the relationship with the body, the naturalness of physical contact, the role models of pornography and so on. Even if the viewer can observe that these photos were taken with a stance on these issues, they do not manipulate him, but leave him his own associations.
The starting point for "Estranged Sex" was the idea of representing sexual and pornographic content, without triggering arousal in the viewer. Torralba is not a fundamental opponent of pornography: She only wants to understand and question. Although the Internet has made everything visible, but that doesn't mean neither diversity nor criticism of sexual practice, which must arrange itself with the "compulsive obsession of society to control the human nature, to condemn and to restrict it".
Her images present human beings "pathetic splendour, tragic vulnerability and endearing humanity, as a familiar being silent about his own doubts and rarities, alienated and absent minded". Sexuality can be "equally the most beautiful and the most ugly of all experiences", but also something very simple, believes Torralba. However: "We put so much into it into, that it sometimes becomes something else."

In all images of the series which was created between 2008 and 2010, as well as in the accompanying videos Sandra Torralba herself acts as a model. For her this is a question of honesty, a personal way of communicating. But this doesn't make the photos autobiographical documents: they are movie roles, in which she emerges as the main character. And yet, she says, "my series could not exist, if I was not in these figures."
Exhibitionism is certainly not what drives her to the other side of the lens. During the period from 2008 to 2010, the ideas constantly grew more ambitious and the number of necessary workers on the set got bigger - demanding from her again and again to overcome her sense of privacy, to become "my own instrument which feels nothing and thinks of nothing else as to what is necessary for the recording." Where possible, she worked with friends or confidants.
Also for her other photo projects, Torralba slips into a variety of roles. Her self-portraits show her sometimes in tragic-romantic pose, sometimes wrecked in desperate excesses, in helpless nudity or surrounded by traces of violence. In her personal favorite series "The Downfall of the Dream", in which she wanders through abandoned or nightly rooms as a floating shade, the confrontation of the everyday life with the grotesque feels ethereally surreal. However, a series that shows her asleep at the most inopportune occasions, shows an ironic view, and "The ideal man" - a rag doll without head or limbs - experiences a romantic love story with the artist in a subversive image sequence.
With her technical perfection and her inventiveness, it is surprising that Sandra Torralba has begun to photograph professionally only in 2008. Born in 1979, the Madrilenian tried first to study medicine, but then completed training in the field of social work, sexual therapy, and psychology. During the four years that she has been living in the United Kingdom, she worked with people in mental crisis situations. Back in Spain photography, a passion of her teenage years, seized her again.
She now works as a professional photographer of order. Her elaborate artistic works, however, which obviously require weeks of preparation, are rather a grant business. When she talks about the motivation behind these images, one hears the therapist, psychologist and social worker in addition to the artist: "I don't do this to please, I do this in order to communicate."

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