Photography saved my life. Every time I go through something scary, traumatic, I survive by taking pictures.
It is very political. First, it is about gender politics. It is about what it is to be male, what it is to be female, what are gender roles… Especially The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is very much about gender politics, before there was such a word, before they taught it at the university. A friend of mine said I was born with a feminist heart. I decided at the age of five that there was nothing my brothers can do and I cannot do. I grew up that way. It was not like an act of decision that I was going to make a piece about gender politics. I made this slideshow about my life, about my past life. Later, I realized how political it was. It is structured this way so it talks about different couples, happy couples.
For me, the major meaning of the slideshow is how you can become sexually addicted to somebody and that has absolutely nothing in common with love. It is about violence, about being in a category of men and women. It is constructed so that you see all different roles of women, then of children, the way children are brought up, and these roles, and then men, then it shows a lot of violence. That kind of violence the men play with. It goes to clubs, bars, it goes to prostitution as one of the options for women - prostitution or marriage. Then it goes back to the social scene, to married and re-married couples, couples having sex, it ends with twin graves.
I actually became very influenced by Rothko. I love the work of Richard Todd, but I cannot say he was an influence. Anything that I see and I love is an influence, but I never try to replicate somebody else, like I never tried to make a Rothko. I love Caravaggio, but I never studied Caravaggio. I never made any Caravaggios. Some of my pictures of boys having sex, they have the same sense of light as Caravaggio. Caravaggio also knew all the people that he painted. They were his lovers or hustlers. Pasolini used boys from the street that he loved that he desired. Fassbinder only used people he knew. Cassavetes used the same people over and over, so I am not the first one to do that, but I think that people have forgotten how radical my work was in the 1980s, when I started, because nobody was doing work like that. Now, so many people have done work like that like Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Corinne Day. Now people think I am just one of many who've done that. They do not understand that The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was so radical when it came out.
I was very influenced by film, because I did not go to high school. I went to the movies. Sometimes I went to the movies two or three times per day. I saw every movie from the 1940s and the 1950s. I saw every movie where all those goddesses were... Every movie with Marlena Dietrich, every movie with Bette Davies, every movie with Barbara Stanwyck, every movie with Marilyn Monroe. Then I saw an enormous amount of Italian movies with Antonioni, Pasolini, de Sica. I was very influenced by Cassavetes. When I am influenced, unlike many other contemporary photographers, I would never take a scene from the movie. I was very influenced by Fassbinder and Kieslowski. I saw his "Ten Commandments." How do you pronounce his name? Yes, he is very important to me. Also Fassbinder was important. I saw all his works.
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