A: I like being naked. Not the (only) the sexualized nakedness but being naked in general. Sun warming my but cheeks is definitely one of my favorite sensations. Nudist beaches and other spaces where you can be free as you are can be very empowering. I think it’s sad that in so many spaces nudity and showing off your body is only reserved for people who have a normative body that meets the not-so-healthy beauty norms of capitalist society. Nudity and freedom are for everyone. And when there is acceptance, inclusion, and self-expression it becomes sexy.
M: I’ve worked with my body a lot in my life. When work and art are bodily it invites often unwanted and harmful comments. Individually they may seem innocent or even positive but underneath they can distort your relationship with your body. In some communities, there is a hierarchy that places beauty standard-compliant people above others. In dance for example I was often told that I wasn’t masculine enough for what the project required. I want to foster a different kind of relationship with bodies.
M: Exposing yourself to photography can be a powerful way of freeing yourself. Moving away from normativity and reproducing beauty differently expands the notion of the aesthetical world. I love photography, both as a model and a photographer. Luckily, I’m in a relationship where my art, personal growth and aspirations are supported. It is empowering but sometimes venturing beyond our pre-established notion of self can be scary.
A: A surrounding of support, trust, acceptance, and empathy is a prerequisite for healthy personal growth. Oftentimes I find it difficult to be with myself. The ever-nagging self-doubt and judgment crawl their way into my thoughts frequently. When your partner helps you by providing a safe space you can feel empowered enough to face issues that you would run away from if you were alone. But there must be reciprocity. The other person is not there only for you. They have their own challenges to overcome – just like me. The beauty of safe spaces (of all kinds) is that they invite us to focus on our own growth and consider the impact we want to have on other people. There’s no reason why individual personal growth should be a threat to a relationship. It just requires forgetting permanency committing to getting to know again and again your partner and taking responsibility for your own direction.
M: I detest having to be the same Marc today as I was yesterday. Of course, there is continuity as what I am today is built on top of my past. But there are aspects and behaviors of me that I will let go of as I grow. Our views of the world evolve constantly. As do ourselves. Many communities that we form part of try, sometimes even violently, force us to be one way or the other. Especially if you have a non-normative identity you face a lot of bullying from your surroundings. Expressing yourself takes sometimes a lot of courage. And not everyone will like it.
A: Differences are a lot of fun. Especially when you don’t share culture, language, age or any of the other contextual factors which we use to build first familiarity and later trust. How do you bridge that? By talking a lot and communicating your needs, wishes, fears and desires openly. Building authentic connections requires also facing the sides of ourselves that we are not too fond of. But that’s the beauty of living in a relationship that is a safe space: you don’t need to like yourself, just take responsibility for the direction you’re growing to. If you like the direction you’re going towards, eventually you will start appreciating yourself more.
M: Trying to give to other people what you think they want seldom leads you to a good place. Especially when it comes to sex. Normativity, having seen too much porn and too few emotionally responsible representations doesn’t help. When we move past expectations and start communicating, connecting with ourselves and our partners and exploring our own desires a whole new world opens. Connecting with vulnerability is scary at first but also hugely rewarding. Getting there requires accountability, empathy and compassion. It can be hard as we must unlearn a lot and sometimes even change how we see ourselves. However, when you’re there it’s hot.
A: When Chris asked us to do a session Marc and I were flattered but also had a long discussion about how far we’d be willing to go. The decision was to play it by ear. The experience turned out to be hugely liberating and fun thanks to Chris’ respectful and honest personality. He managed to create a safe place where we felt good enough to have sex in front of the camera. And it was fun. I felt like we were giving the world a gift of something so humane and intimate, something that is usually reserved for our private space. Even more so, the idea of enriching other peoples’ fantasies and desires felt good. I imagined how some people would create a fantasy based on what they see. It was hot and empowering. Of course, you worry if the experience and the pictures will come back to haunt you but that’s life.