NATACHA MERRITT RETURNS WITH NEW BOOK SEXUAL SELECTION
Foreword by Richard Prince
“What is interesting about Natacha is her notion of her own tumescent sense of self and sexuality.”
Dazed and Confused
“The juxtapositions are exceptional… Of course I like the real people having sex, and to put them next to these other biological forms is really original and leads one's imagination to places it hasn't been…” Richard Prince (about Sexual Selection, 12/2011)
Internationally renowned photographer Natacha Merritt, author of the ground-breaking Digital-Diaries (Taschen, 2000) returns with her latest collection of genre-defying photographs in Sexual Selection in May 2012, published by cult Berlin arthouse Bongoût. At the age of 21, Merritt redefined the boundaries of artistic photography with the best seller Digital Diaries, the first digital photography book ever published. Her controversial and highly sexual work was soon featured in publications across the world from Rolling Stone to The Observer, Playboy to The Wall Street Journal and Der Spiegel. The book quickly became an L.A. Times and Amazon bestseller, moving over 300,000 copies.
Merritt’s new book Sexual Selection is in many ways even more captivating. She applied her distinctive vision to a subtle and complex art, creating astonishing and surprisingly lyrical images as she compares and contrasts the sexual intricacies of plants and insects with human sexuality. Soon after the incredible success of Digital Diaries, Merritt embraced a new obsession: science. While she pursued and completed a degree in biology, she found herself transfixed by the complex mating habits of plants and insects. By photographing the insect world during the day and continuing to focus on the art of human sexuality throughout the evenings, the concept for her new book was a natural progression for Merritt to reach. With the questions she asks as a scientist, she answers as an artist with photography and writing; why are some sexual practices and organs so detailed, complex and bizarre when this gets in the way of basic survival? As Natacha explains, “Sexual selection is the sensual side of evolution. It explains the ornate, the creative and the beautiful, it can explain arousal, and it’s what gets us laid.”
The concept of sexual selection was first introduced by Darwin in 1859 in his landmark book ‘On the Origin of Species’ as an explanation of the characteristics of many animals that don’t appear to have a direct role in survival. But Merritt takes the idea further: her bio-centric images are intertwined with contemporary research into the selection process as she flirts with thought-provoking concepts such as sexual selection via cryptic female choice, antagonistic co-evolution or sexual plasticity.
Each image is unmistakably a work of art that transcends easy categorisation. Lush and eerily intimate photographs capture the fleeting moments of arousal, granting us a rare insight into our universal sexuality, often timelessly classic and always radical and uncompromisingly contemporary. By exposing the often over-looked sensual and sexual behaviour of other species as well as our own, Sexual Selection is guaranteed to broaden the readers’ sense of beauty and arousal regardless of their vantage point.
232 photographs in full colour
22 x 17 cm
18 texts by author in english
Release date May 2012
PRICE: 29,90 €
First 200 orders gets a signed postcard !
Natacha Merritt BIOGRAPHY
Natacha Merritt (b. 1977, San Francisco) is an artist, writer and biologist. Her intimate and explicit series of portraits and self-portraits documenting her sexual history caused a sensation when she published them on her website www.digitalgirly.com. Her first book, Digital-Diaries (Taschen), an erotic exploration at the dawn of the digital era, quickly became a critically acclaimed international best-seller, shifting over 300,000 copies and being featured in publications as diverse as The Observer, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone.
Following the spectacular success of the book, Merritt embarked on a series of diverse art projects and high-profile collaborations. She spoke at conferences as diverse as Ars Electronica on Next Sex: Sex in the Age of Procreative Superfluousness and the design conference AGideas (Melbourne, Australia). In 2000 she starred, shot and edited D-life (heralded as one of the first Internet reality miniseries) with two fellow artists, in collaboration with Heavy.com (later picked up by Warner Bros). From 2003-2004, Merritt was invited to be one of the creators for the Cirque du Soleil show Zumanity (NYNY Hotel and Casino), an exploration of sensuality and peak human performance, for which she created large-scale multimedia projections from erotic images she had captured of the performers.
An accomplished artist and producer, Merritt was ready for a new challenge and soon developed a passion for biology - “the ultimate exploration of life,” she says. She returned to higher education in 2005 to study biology at the San Francisco State University, specialising in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology. Now a trained scientist, she sees this passion as a natural extension of her interest in sex. The rigours of science revealed a wealth of deeper creativity and subject matter: “Not only are these incredibly varied life forms extraordinary in their beauty, but they are an integral part of our ecosystem and greatly impact the quality of our lives,” she says.
In 2008, while deep in her studies of biology, she wrote an ‘insect circus’ inspired by her observations of the insect world and celebrating the importance of biodiversity. She licensed the rights to Cirque du Soleil and the circus became OVO, still touring.
Merritt’s academic research led her to investigate the sexual and reproductive practices of other species. Thus began work on a new photo book, Sexual Selection, a comparative artistic study of sex in the human, plant and insect worlds, released in May 2012 through Berlin-based arthouse Bongoût.
Merritt’s recent work highlights how our morphologies are intimately linked to other species through shared and convergent evolution. While proposing a new feminist stance, Merritt incorporates scientific insights with her artistic practice. Her new work unveils an untapped sexual beauty and eroticism hidden within all species.