Inappropriate Images by Alva Bernadine


When I first started taking erotic photographs they were for myself and nobody saw them apart from a few friends. They languished in my photo albums for some years until my first book, Bernadinism: How to Dominate Men and Subjugate Women, was published in 2001 by a Swiss publisher. 

Quite early on I realised that the nexus between erotica and pornography was quite close. You had only to have the model open her legs and there you were. I was not interested in men’s magazine photos though, my pictures were about not only desire but the problems that go with it.

Ever since I began photography I have always had a penchant for the the extraordinary and exotic and anything I did had to fall into the stylistic parameters I set for myself at the outset of my life in photography. The need to keep putting images through the camera leads us to places we would not normally be interested in and would not go otherwise. And one of those places for me was the fetish scene. First time I went to a club I was astonished at the amount of imagination they used in their sexuality. There was so many ideas there which I could adapt for my own work. It was probably then I started thinking if it was possible to take pictures that were both art and pornography at the same time. And it is something I have played with over the years from time to time. One of those projects was when I bought a close-up lens and and a ring flash and set about trying to find a subject to shoot. I thought of Georgia O’Keefe and the way her flowers were often said to resemble vaginas. I ended up photographing over 70 vaginas of volunteers over the years and started putting them in grids alternating with flowers. I eventually turned them into Op Art.


At the beginning of 2007 I bought a video camera as a hobby and to document my work. One of the first things I learned was sign replacement, something done routinely in the film world. I experimented by shooting billboards and substituting some of my work for the ads. It was a virtual outdoor exhibition. It was then that it occurred to me that I could seemingly put up inappropriate and pornographic imagery in public and have people going about their normal business. It intrigued me and I wondered what it would look like. I thought I might get around to it some day.
The some day began in the autumn of 2011 when I embarked on my Pornography As Art “campaign”, deciding to do it in both photography and video. Since the work was to appear on poster sites it  seemed right that it should also have a slogan. I had not been to the West End of London for several years and the obvious change was all the huge posters stuck to the sides of stores and in the windows and hoardings of shops being refurbished. I stalked the streets like a street photographer, finding an advert and waiting for the right person to walk by. I did a picture outside The Royal Academy, then sometime later it occurred to me that I should shoot some of the other art institutions in the city and I would throw in some of the top commercial galleries as well. [Official Website]

The thing with ordinary pornography is its ability to arouse diminishes with the number viewings and when it no longer arouses it is thrown away, while with pornography as art, after its ability to arouse decreases it is still left with an aesthetic sensibility worth keeping.


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