MagLau has just released his new book Fetish Ballad with German publisher Verlag Kettler. It is the result of a three years’ road trip into the underground world of Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and Berlin. It is a rough ballad into fetish parties.
It has nothing to do with the usual fetish photography with beautiful top models posing in nice outfits. From the start, the singularity of MagLau’s eye hits us in the face through its proposal of another glimpse at the fetishist scene. Far away from the invented universe of 50 shades of grey, MagLau shows the reality of this phenomenon.
The pictures reveal real fetish scenes and not posed or organised scenery. The shoots were taken at low light, without flash in a street photography approach. MagLau has privileged the mood to the sharpness, the blurred impression to the clean pictures in order to get the smell of this underground world made of latex, tattoos and ropes.
The lens captures stolen moments, fragments of life at night. The aesthetic therefore breaks with the glamour as MagLau’s camera focussed on the quirky, the bursts of joy, of distress, of delight. Has MagLau become a fetishist while doing this three year project? He does not consider that it is the case while recognising that every photographer is a kind of “voyeur”.
In carrying out his project, MagLau has captured in an unseen manner the neo-fetishist tribes, who are inventing themselves other aliases and new sexualities.
The sequence of the pictures in the book unfolds a real dialogue. Pictures are facing each other revealing obvious or implicit resonances. Sometimes poetic, sometimes humoristic and sad, Fetish ballad is a life movie, opening the existence to its margins, playing with “deviant” practices.
Through the dual arrangement of the book, the spectator perceives the vibrations of the same and unique life flowing, migrating from humans, enthusiasts of adornments, of trans-identities to natural elements. A mouth half-open in a silent cry prolongs itself into that of a fish, swimming in almost solid water. Harness tightening naked bodies resonates with the architectural curves of a sidewalk.
Boundaries vanish. The boundary between humans and the animal reign, between the animate and the inanimate is cracking. The opposites are blurred; adoration and profanation, inferno and ecstasy blend into each other. As Veronique Bergen wrote in the foreword of the book: “It is the juxtaposition of fetishist sequences and scenes of ordinary life that is captivating. It opens fetishism to other territories. It bursts the codes and stereotypes to which the photographic creation often confines fetishism.”
As Robert Mapplethorpe wrote: «Beauty and the devil are the same thing». Stunning pony girls, amazing drag queens, frightening gothics, beautiful cyborg creatures and mutants walk in a scenery made of ruins. It is a world that they try to re-invent. Some are here for the fun, some are here to suffer, some are just playing and some are living their true life, some are looking for sources of new pleasures and some are in search of a new god or goddess.
The rough, black and white granulation of MagLau’s pictures unveils all these emotions. MagLau is playing with them while not judging what he is showing. In one iconic picture, a cage decorated by the word “Slave” appears to us. There is nobody in this cage. Nobody is captive of one single interpretation although some fetishists may be trapped in their fantasy world.
Veronique Bergen concludes by saying: “MagLau’s pictures scratch, caress, and lash us. (…) Upon closing the book, the world provides us with new initiatory languages, with new marginal polarities. Into the night in flames, a cult ballad, a ballad to Fetish land.”
Of course, it is a book which should not fall into innocent hands but definitely a book that you will remember! Take a walk on the wild side… [Official Website]