Bondage through another’s eyes – 3 pieces of Man Ray

Man-Ray-Woman-in-Mask-and-Handcuffs-1928

Artist and photographer, Man Ray, made several sadomasochistic photos in his career in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a devotee to the works of the Marquis de Sade, and created portraits of the Marquis. Man Ray was one of many artists seeking truth through extreme mental and physical states.

Man Ray’s 1930 Gloved Figure exemplifies the relationship between sadomasochism and mysticism. The photograph features a figure clad in  suede elbow-length gloves, and a matching suede mask. The mask and gloves have been carefully constructed out of the same light-coloured suede material and appear to fit snugly over the model’s face and hands, suggesting that they were made specifically for this shoot based on the model’s exact measurements. The model’s hands are pulled above their head and are attached to a metal chain hanging from the ceiling with a pair of handcuffs. The model is clearly in the masochistic position, their sense of sight and hearing deprived by the mask and their ability to move severely, if not completely, hindered by the handcuffs and chain, which leaves them seemingly suspended from the ceiling.

Man-Ray-Woman-in-Bondage-c1930

Man Ray made a strong connection between artistic prowess and masculine prowess, specifically power over women; the bohemian machismo.

Created in 1930, the Fetishistic Mise-en-scène for William Seabrook series was considered so perverse it was only widely released to the public in 1994.  As the title suggests, the series was created by Man Ray at the request of Seabrook.  They worked together to  bring Seabrook’s fantasies to life, male voyeurism and the fetishization of lesbianism for male pleasure.

Man Ray doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with Seabrook’s world,  hence the less intimate cropping. He seems to prefer his sadism to be spontaneous outbursts of passion, not the meticulously planned, “perverse” scenarios of Seabrook.

A "Thank You" to Man Ray, Audrey Warne. Peter Tupper