Educational Books image, 2006
An exhibit of photographs and illustrations by
'Educational Books' is a reference to a scene in Michael Powell’s 1960 film 'Peeping Tom', now an underground classic. In one scene a middle-aged man buys under-the-counter photographs from a corner shop, which are surreptitiously placed in a brown envelope marked with that phrase. ‘Educational Books’ at HOTEL brings together Charles Raymond’s original colour illustrations for Alex Comforts’ groundbreaking 1972 book ‘The Joy of Sex’, with photographic images by New York based photographer Richard Kern, and London based photographer Alice Hawkins, three distinct generations of artist.
Charles Raymond’s images depict himself (the infamous bearded man) and his wife making love. The entire approach of the Comforts’ book significantly broke established codes of presentation and discussion of sexuality for consenting adults. Richard Kern’s imagery published in collections such as ‘New York Girls’ and ‘Model Release’‚ brought the work of this subversive photographer to an international audience. His images range from the quite explicit to very charming portraiture, so they often disrupt our expectation of both straight pornography and of mainstream figurative portraiture.
Alice Hawkins is a young London based photographer whose images of her friends and colleagues invite subjects are complicit in the posing, styling and reception of the images to a potentially alien and intimate audience display a freshness, intimacy and sense of humour rare in the male dominated world of sexual image making.
The three different generations of artist, and the different approaches and context for each creates a really juxtaposing aesthetic, and an exploration of the subject which should be interesting, in an age where sexuality is ubiquitous in imagery, but still provokes great confusion and debate.