The drawings of Apollonia Saintclair appeared from nowhere on the Web in 2012. A self-taught illustrator with tortuous past, Apollonia draws for her pleasure and that of heraudience. She also works for publishing houses, among other La Musardine. Her imagination is fueled by Pop culture as well as academic canons and her graphic influencesrange from Leonardo da Vinci to Moebius and Milo Manara – among many other European comics artist. She also finds a great inspiration in The Silver Spoon. A longtimeresident of the Old Continent, Apollonia divides her time between the kitchen and her workshop
What are you looking at?
“We are all made of mud, yet we all have momentswhen we transcend the everyday.” Apollonia Saintclair, Nakid Magazine 2016
Whois the mysterious Apollonia Saintclair? From which universe was she sent to us, Bowie-esquein her monumental intelligence, her unparalleled skill and vivid, explosive imagination?” I seeher falling from the outer universe, throughshooting stars and alien tentacles, the atoms and planets bursting and theendless particles of the universe embracing and carrying her to land onoursoft earth. To see deep into our selves and reveal to us through ink and bloodwho it is that we truly are. I imagine that through her eyes, we would seeourselves made of black and whitelines, living our most hidden fantasies outin the public for all to see, free from the shackles of shame or guilt,liberated and eroticized
Itis Apollonia’s eyes that hold the key to the popularity of her work. It is hergaze.
WhenApollonia asked me to write an introduction to her new book, it was an obviousfit. Although the (not safe for) work I do as an adultcinema director may seemdifferent to that of Apollonia’s wildly fantastic and unique skills inillustration, what connects us is our gaze. Twowomen, experiencing, dissectingand creatively exploring sexuality and eroticism.
“Protagonism is propaganda that protects andperpetuates privilege” JillSoloway, TIFF 2016
Solowaysummed up the role of the male and female gaze more succinctly than I ever could in those words. She summizes that the female gaze is a completely differentconcept to that of themale gaze – and in more complex and unique ways than itsimply being a “woman’s point of view”.
The“male gaze” was a term coined by Laura Mulvey in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”in1973, who took the psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan’s theory on the internal andexternal self-image, gaze and subject/objectivity and explored it withincinema. And the fiercely wise Apollonia takes on this mantle in her own work:“Images are simultaneously the product ofreflection of what one is and whatone sees.”
WhenMulvey spoke about the male gaze in cinema, what resonated most for me in termsof adult cinema was that the assumed audience inboth genres is male. Thereforethe protagonists appeal to men (or are meant to represent them) – andthe women are objectified as things to be observed, rather than to empathise,relate and connect to on an emotional level. Essentially,cinema always asksyou to put yourself in the shoes of the man, and in the knickers of the woman.
Thisis where having a woman behind the camera, or holding the pen, becomes vital inmaking feminist and sex-positiveerotica. T way I see through thelens, the way I view as a woman whatI am directing, is different. I observedifferent moments – facial expressions of the men, the bead of sweatrunning down a temple, the small shake in the toes of a woman. The wayApolloniaexplores sex taps into the deepest eroticism within humankind – herunderstanding of our sexuality is unlike anything else I’ve seen in art. OurWestern culture, from classical art to porn itself,is one of the biggestperpetrators of this repressive and sexist culture of sexuality we are forcedto try and break out from. The patriarchy is sexuality’s arch nemesis – and itsheroines arewomen like Apollonia. Reminding us that the most weird andwonderful corners of our imaginations are often the darkest, the sexiest, andthe most mysterious.
Whatmakes Apollonia’s work so popular? Aside from the mind-blowing intricacy anddetail in her work, the sheer skill with which she createsher art incinematic, post-noir, stunningly imaginative ways, is that she captures theessence of what sexuality means for each of us. Whetherit’s a naked womanriding a rocket ship into outer space; or being dragged into the depths of hellby multiple hands; engaging in BDSM oroctopus fetishism; the exquisite worldsshe invites us into in each piece are as varied as each of our own innerdesires and fantasies. They aremeant for everyone – and their lack of bias, orobjectivity draws us as the viewers into scenes we never could have imagined aserotic orarousing – but that most certainly are. She deliberately creates work“about the ambiguous situations where, finally, the interpretation dependsmostly on the viewer.” Rather than forcing her narrative down our throats, inthe violent way in which pornography can insist that we experienceour personalsexuality, she opens the door for us to discover.
Theidea that all women are interested in are roses and romance ties right into theMadonna/whore cliché that only allows us to either be slutsor mothers.Apollonia’s work reminds the world that women are far more complex beings thanthat – and that given the opportunity to expresshow we experience sex, how wefantasise about it and indeed how we view it, we just might surprise you.
Myselfand Apollonia share one other thing in common – our work, deliberately or not,is becoming intrinsic within modern sexual discourse.Which is why we havedecided to collaborate on a film together – bringing the two worlds of adultcinema and erotic art together, hopefully tocreate something that opens theeyes, minds and legs of our viewers in ways they haven’t conceived of before.We will send shivers up yourspines, and goose bumps along your arms. We willstimulate your minds and your senses… and we will continue to use sexuality anderoticismas tools for sexual liberation, to deconstruct repression andmisogyny in society, as well as arousing you on a physical and spiritual level.
Butfor now, prepare to dive deep into the fascinating, spellbinding and arousingworlds of Apollonia Saintclair. It’s unlike anything you’ve seenbefore, or will again.