1. The mantra of Kink Power is “Where art is porn and porn is art”. What is art and what is porn for you and your art? What is there at the crossroads of art and porn?
Art for me is one of the most important tools for processing feelings & experiences, especially regarding lust, obsessions, trauma (and i have many of all three). Porn, the way i see it, is a mainly but not only visual medium (i also consider erotica literature a written form of porn) whose focus is to document feelings, fantasies & experiences tied primarily with lust & sexual desire. So, for me, any work of art that one of its main themes is lust & desire, can be considered porn. It’s a quite wide definition! One the other side, there is porn produced quite mechanically, without so much thought on the form and even the content. Can it be considered art? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe not right now, but after 100 or 200 years it may be aesthetically pleasing to our eyes, like a random vintage can of beans, although it was not intended to be perceived as art when it was created.
2. What does “queer art” mean to you and your art?
I was thinking today while I was riding the bus and saw another queer person (or, better, a person that I thought as queer) that there as so many different queer people as non-queer. we are so diverse and rich and in reality, the only difference really is that many of us have chosen, consciously, unconsciously, or a mix of both, to break the invisible layers of cisheteronormativity that are floating all around us, when we go out in the streets, in our workplaces, in our minds and in our beds. Queer art is the same; is an attempt to break, maim, make fun of, or create new imaginings of this quite narrow and frankly sometimes quite boring way that we learn to relate with our bodies, with other people, our sexuality, our fantasies, our gender. There are so many more possibilities, narratives and experiences out there than we could ever imagine, and queer art is way to explore that.
3. Softness is a fundamental element of your art, your drawings are cradled by softness. What is the mentalité behind this choice?
Thank you! It is true that lately, words like softness, radical softness, radical vulnerability have became buzzwords to the point of starting to lose their meaning entirely. For me, softness comes naturally, it is the way I exist and relate with people most of the time (not that I don’t get my spikes out sometimes as well). So I guess it finds its way in my art too. I believe it mainly stems out of trauma. Sexual and otherwise. I don’t think it’s a conscious choice from my part. Maybe, the only way to re-imagine sexuality in a way that I feel non-traumatising and at the same time hot, is through softness and cuteness.
4. Ariadne, regarding Greek mythology, was a Cretan princess, who helped Theseus escape the Minotaur, but being abandoned by him on Naxos island she became god Dionysus’ wife. Why did you choose this mythological character as main character of your comic books?
Ariadne was pretty cool! She kind of betrayed her father Minos while helping Theseus. She abandoned her royal duties in order to follow him to Athens. There are multiple variations of the myth after that point; one of them is that Dionysus appeared in Theseus’ dream and ordered him to leave Ariadne in Naxos so he can marry her. I like this variation story-telling wise, because Ariadne thinks that her lover abandoned her, but in reality he had no other choice. According to Hellenistic lexicographers, “Ariadne” comes from ari (ἀρι-) “most”and adnós (ἀδνός) “holy”. Searching more about it, previous versions of the name were “Ariagne” with ari (ἀρι-) + agnē (ἀγνή) meaning “the purest one” but also ad (αδ) could come from the ancient greek verb “andano” (ανδάνω) which means to give delight, pleasure. So all these different etymologies excited my interest and blended together nicely with the character I wanted to create. Also, being the soon-to-be bride of Dionysus and the setting of Naxos with its imaginary mythical creatures (nymphs, maenads, satyrs) was perfect for hatching my erotic tale.
5. The use of the term “chastity” could be considered as a paradox, an irony or an implication of a fetish in the title of a pornographic comic book. Was it your initial goal? Or did you aim to re-define the “chastity” and how does our society perceive it in relation to sex and/or porn?
The social construct of virginity, and the accompanying notions of purity and chastity was a great canvas for me to play with. In the first comic, Ariadne is having sex with all these different creatures, but technically she is still considered a “virgin”. With the extreme focus of many cisheterosexual (and not only) porn on penis-in-vagina penetration, I wanted to create a story that was mapping the experiences before (or beyond) that. Even in the second coming, where the “deflowering” finally happens, it’s with from a masculine God with a vagina using a wooden dildo. So, on the one hand, I wanted to honor the different ways one can have sex, away from the heterosexual paradigm, but also, to play with this idea of “chastity” and how it can become a hot fantasy, the idea of taking someone’s virginity, although there was never such a thing in the first place.
6. In your comic book “Ariadne, or the Adventures of Chastity” you created an alternative mythological universe with nymphs and satyrs. Is this universe a fictional, artistic “safe space”, ideal for sexual pursuit away from the patriarchal reality?
Maybe, in my mind, was safe, but in the reality of the universe, it’s not safe at all! Nymphs disappear a little bit after Ariadne has sex with them, only to appear much later until the end of the series, satyrs suddenly take her and tie her against her will, and it’s very questionable if she is consenting on her “deflowering” by Dionysus. I was quite skeptical about this and how it may affect people who read it that are not so much into BDSM or consent culture in general. But I decided that all the events in the universe are not much different than constructing an elaborate BDSM scene (of the Pursuit, Take-Down and Capture flavor). Or an
imaginary space that we often create while writing /doing art in order to discover our deeper thoughts and emotions in a safe way, outside of reality and without repercussions. It’s still patriarchical in way (I mean, Ariadne gets married with Dionysus in the end) but it’s definitely an attempt to imagine how sexuality could be in a Pre-Christian era, a relationship with body and sexuality before all the shame and vilification that came attached to it.
7. Is the choice of a semi-realistic illustration another ingredient of your dreamy, fairylandish universe?
I wanted to use a language that is already familiar to many for this comic, history of art. Even to the uninitiated eye, paintings of 19th century and early 20th are a common heritage for the West. And it in reality, a lot of it was porn! Just porn catered to the male gaze. So, my goal was to take these eroticised, many times objectifying, representations of the feminine body and reverse them; in order to cater to the feminine and queer gaze. Hence the semi-realistic representation of bodies. (Also, I wanted to practice on drawing bodies, which I enjoy doing so much!)
8. Milo Manara, Walt Disney, Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille, Nonnus of Panopolis and Ovid: What is the relationship among these historic personalities and how are they related to “Ariadne, or the Adventures of Chastity”?
What an interesting question! I guess, all of them, being cisstraight men, imagined and depicted a feminine sexuality in a way outside of what they have experienced. In The Sex Which Is Not The One, Luce Iragaray challenges the notion of “The Dark Continent”, as Sigmund Freud describes feminine sexuality. Iragaray argues, there are multiple feminine sexualities, and they are defined by their multiplicities. My interpretation, uses one of them, that feels close to my personality and my experiences, and at the same using well-known depictions based in cisstraight men. How can this work, or even make sense? According to Hélène Cixous, in the Laugh Of The Medusa the feminine voice is disrupted, eccentric and inconsistent, “a borrowed language”. So, I used these fragments of different artists in different times to create my own universe of feminine, queer sexuality.
9. The influence by the 19th century European painting is clear in your comic book “Ariadne, or the Adventures of Chastity”. “La Femme Damnée” by Nicolas Francois Octave Tassaert and “Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene” by Simeon Solomon are only some of the paintings of these period which seem to be present in your artwork. How did the art of 19th century influence your art?
I’m so glad that you recognized, these, frankly quite obscure paintings, because that means that I achieved my goal! Simeon Solomon is one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelites, because of his peculiar story (from being regarded a child prodigy he ended up dying destitute and homeless because of his homosexuality) and his consistently gender-queer themes penetrating even his religious works (ie, The
Annunciation). I have lived in the United Kingdom for a little bit, where I discovered many works of 19th century western painting, and especially The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which inspired me very much, because of their imagining of a different feminine sexuality than before (although still sexist in some of its forms), dreamy, otherworldly and tied to nature.
10. Is Ambrosia (main character of “Ariadne, or the Adventures of Chastity”) an ancestor or maybe an alter ego of Poison Ivy, the character of DC universe?
Ambrosia is definitely a Pagan progenitor of Poison Ivy! When I was young, my mother had an issue of Batman: Poison Ivy #1 illustrated by Brian Apthorp and Stan Woc and colored by Trish Mulvihill. Its drawings and story had absolutely captivated me! I was reading it, or better devouring it, again and again, memorizing its lines and Poison Ivy’s body. An erotic overtone was infused throughout the comic. I didn’t realise until much later, how deeply it had influenced my work on Ariadne and beyond.
11. Your art introduces us in the world of “ecosexuality”. Could you talk to us a little bit about this movement and its position in your art?
Ecosexuality, although its flaws (namely the lack of People of Color perspective), has an interesting take on the connection between Patriarchy and the devastation of the nature from humans. In an attempt to undermine this paradigm, ecosexuality’s proposition is to treat nature as a lover. For me, the dichotomy of nature and humanity is false, we are one and I think that, in subconscious ways, overflows to my art. In Ariadne, a friend commented that they feel as nature is also a part of the erotic scenes. Not as a bystander or background, but a participant.
12. Recently “Ariadne, or the Adventures of Chastity” was re-printed. And there is also a new comic book “Ariadne and Dionysus”. Would you like to talk a little bit about this double achievement? Are there any other future plans?
Ariadne, or the Adventures of Chastity” was printed in a limited tirage, because I didn’t know how people will react to it. Mainly circulated between friends and friends of friends, the web of interest started to grow hence the need for a second re-print. “Ariadne and Dionysus” was the natural continuation and wrap-up of the story, and was completed just a few days before Comicdom Con, in the middle of September 2021. It was an amazing feeling for me to see this small at first but quite ambitious project to grow and reach people I have never imagined. Many women and queers have came up to me and said that they enjoyed this dreamy, cute but at the same time hot re-imagining of sex. So I guess I feel that it served its purpose 🙂 On my bucket list for the near future is self publishing an English version of both comics in one book and then working on a new project, with queer sexuality and magic as its main focus. I want to continue on writing and illustrating comics, collaborating with other writers and artists, not necessarily erotica, but always from queer lens.
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