Sex contains all, bodies, souls, Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations, Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk, All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth. -Walt Whitman, A Woman Waits for Me
Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place. – Billy Crystal
Everyone ditches their trench coat in this series by Gerald Förster titled with the spy novel like sobriquet Nocturnal. Lush nudes flanked by cityscapes have a heightened effect because of the painterly light he captures streaming through kaleidoscope foliage. His precise balance of abstraction and clear representation unfold a sequence of perceptions peppered by glimmers of recognition that ultimately allow one to conclude these results are hardly accidental. The velvety vibe of the prints exudes all the juicy allure of a dream without the graphic gloss.
Each is an origami undone to reveal a cornucopia of scenarios and types of couples choreographed by Förster in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. Some have distinct landmarks and others are literally someone’s backyard. Förster shoots Nocturnal as still lives or architectural portraits whose human presence is enriched against panoramic, technicolor skies. Simple voyeurism is raised to a new level by inviting the viewer to participate in the dialogue of rebellion and the dangers of sexual transgression.
The Nocturnal series creates intimate, sexually charged scenarios within the context of elaborate and oddly disconcerting landscapes. Förster utilizes the scenarios as a vehicle to explore the powerful tensions between intimate physical contact and alienating physical context. They are nuanced studies in the divided nature of human intimacy as well as elaborately constructed visual metaphors for the beauty and mystery elicited in the open disregard of social taboo. Each exemplifies the exhilaration of liberated sexuality in a lost, isolated world. Within the nightscapes, human figures bound in the act of making love blur beyond distinction. Their physicality is simultaneously elevated and diminished making them appear ghostly, translucent, and immaterial.
A culture’s definitions of sexuality and its place in daily life are oft defined between public and private spaces. The majority of the population holds intercourse as an activity reserved for closely guarded spheres or isolated pleasure zones definitively separated from the wide open great outdoors in accordance with conceptions of propriety. There is the seedy motel room for hourly hire to indulge in the dirty love affair or a secret rendezvous, perhaps a gentleman’s club for an evening out with the boys; for women there are parties where toys can be bought rather than Tupperware or a class taken at the gym to combine aerobics with learning to strip and pole dance, but in general sex is done at home.
Heightened awareness of these set notions pervades daily life and relationships. Now and again though, couples are overcome in a moment or perhaps even uncover a fetish for public displays of affection beyond hand holding or kissing. The necessities of romance and soft emotion are thrown off along with their garments allowing for interaction that is raw, revealing, and risky, or if nothing else risqué. The precept and reliance of fantasy or distraction is essential for some while simply playful for others. To sing the body electric under the veil of the night sky on a dock, in a parking lot, or perhaps against a telephone pole, is an evangelical praise to the morphing of two individuals into one. The works are titillating on the grounds of sheer sex, but a realm of suppression is also critically analyzed, longings unleashed, and definitions questioned. There is something to learn from Förster’s couples in terms of finding a freedom, a balance between the entertainment and the intimacy of sex.