LA PETITE MORT

LA PETITE MORT is a new series of works in progress exploring the exhilarating ‘losses’ that occur during a sexual climax. A French term literally translating as ‘the little death’ – which commonly refers to an orgasm – to describe the temporary bodily and psychological ‘loss’ one experiences during climax. In the 16th century the term la petite mort was originally used to refer to a nervous spasm or a fainting episode, it even appeared in work by the 19th century writer and poet Thomas Hardy.

I have applied visual metaphor and collage to capture these transcendental moments but I intend this series will progress to include multi-sensory ingredients over time, including edible versions.

 

Often discarded after single use, I have repurposed oyster shells as decorative and functional vessels. One is decorated with the ‘L’Origine du monde’ a provocative painting by Gustave Courbet dating 1866 depicting a close up of female genitalia and lower torso. The second design is a hand whose fingers are poised for masturbatory pleasure.  Eating from these shells elicits other aspects of eroticism, namely oral sex, and reaffirms the sensual pleasures shared between eating and sexual activity.

                                    

The collages juxtapose probing fingers and nudes amidst ethereal stellar skies and erupting explosions to suggest the tiny climactic lapse of consciousness proposed by the term ‘la petite mort’.

This work contributes to conversations exploring the gendered double standards imposed by patriarchal societies which continue to widen the ‘orgasm gap’ and negate notions of female pleasure.