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Jonnah Bron’s Where We Did It
Photography by Jonnah Bron

Why Jonnah Bron photographs the beds she’s just had sex in

For four years, the photographer has been making a visual diary of places she’s made love, or lust, in

For the past four years, photographer Jonnah Bron has been documenting the beds she has sex in. Her project, Where we did it, captures these private scenes and currently consists of 48 bed portraits, and counting.

“People often remember the act itself, but all things surrounding (sex) end up forgotten: the actions as well as the setting,” explains Bron. “But with my series, I capture what my bed partners and I have created together, subconsciously.”

In her project, the Holland-based artist Bron highlights this important location as a visual diary of the intimate places she’s made love or simply just lust. Looking at the role of location, her work explores the space that connects people when they’re alone together, both intimate and naked.

Below, Bron discusses the process behind Where we did it, the fear of being forgotten, and the project’s relationship to slut-shaming.

Was there a particular moment that sparked the idea for this project?

Jonnah Bron: The very first picture I took of a bed was because I wanted to remember the spontaneous night before. Because I knew I would never see her again. I wanted to have something to hold on to so that I wouldn’t forget the night we shared. I initially didn’t intend for it to be a photo series, but I didn’t stop after that first picture. Whenever I felt that I most likely would never return to the room we had just had sex in, I would take a picture to remember the place. Later on, when I saw the photos I had taken so far, I saw that in a way, it meant more than just ‘a happy memory’ to me. The photos with the empty beds turned out to have a different connotation. There are a lot of beds that I shared with a person I was in a relationship with. At that time, the bed seemed irrelevant, as the focus was on the person. But now that the relationship has ended, the bed becomes the subject. I started taking the pictures out of a fear to forget and ended up publishing them out of a fear to be forgotten.

How do your partners react when you ask them to take a picture?

Jonnah Bron: When I started taking pictures four years ago, I didn’t ask them. Because I didn’t know back then that it would result in a whole series. When I knew the series would be published online, I asked my exes if they were okay with it. Now, when I ask people for the first time, they normally react with ‘Oh, okay!’ or ‘What for?’ and then I explain my series and they’re totally fine with it and if it happens a second time, they don’t even seem surprised anymore when I take my camera. If they ask, I show them the results. If they don’t ask, I don’t show them right away.

“I started taking the pictures out of a fear to forget, and ended up publishing them out of a fear to be forgotten” – Jonnah Bron 

What do you want to give to the viewer when they look at this project?

Jonnah Bron: People often remember the act itself, but all things surrounding end up to be forgotten: the actions as well as the setting. The exact moment of getting in bed remains unnoticed. But with my series, I capture what my bed partners and I have created together, subconsciously. The picture shows whatever the process of lovemaking has left behind. Whenever I look at the photos myself, they remind me of crime scenes. For the unfamiliar viewer, it is unclear whatever happened, with whom, and which piece of clothing belongs to which person. I like the idea of my photos being a mystery to those people, but for me and her, they represent a shared and private memory.

What have been other peoples’ reactions to the project?

Jonnah Bron: Some people just see the words ‘beds’ and ‘sex’ and draw their own conclusions. That limits their views, leaving no room for my intentions for the series. Others appreciate this unique display of intimacy and applaud the shown effect my series has: opening up a dialogue about numbers of bed partners. 

In regards to sexism, have you ever been called out for your ‘body-count’ because of this project?

Jonnah Bron: Yes, when it was published at an online platform, I got a lot of people slut-shaming me. Calling me a ‘slut’ and are wondering why “some guy would still fuck me after he knows the count is at 48”. For me, it was surprising to see how still, so many men and even women, are filled with judgment and are eager to speak their minds, without knowing the full context of the series. I didn’t expect that the series would create such a fuss about a ‘body count’. Seeing as my ‘body count’ is never mentioned in the series or description. And even if I had: why are people so bothered by a number? The way I view it, people have the freedom and ownership of their own bodies, which means they get to choose whatever they do with it and with whom they share it.

Do you see a big difference between the pictures of one-night stands or the ones from past relationships? If so, what are these?

Jonnah Bron: The series consists mostly of beds I shared with people I casually dated and people I have been in a relationship with. The pictures that were taken of beds I shared with dates are a bit messier. The mess visualizes the longing for each other and for the unknown body. There was no time to waste. Whereas with my exes I had plenty of time. We often undressed first before stepping into bed. This results in more ‘tidy’ surroundings.

“The pictures taught me that there is more to a situation than the lust that could take over the entire moment” – Jonnah Bron 

Which picture holds the most emotional value to it?

Jonnah Bron: I have a couple of them. For instance, the one with the McDonald's bag in it. It was with a girl that I had just known for a few days and whom I felt really strongly about, but we knew that in a couple of weeks she would go back to France. The clothes that we quickly ripped off each other’s bodies, displayed on the couch, show how much we wanted each other.

How has your sex life changed since you have started taking these pictures? 

Jonnah Bron: The photos gave me an opportunity to stand still and reflect over a moment that happened spontaneously. This resulted in me being more present whenever I shared a bed again. The pictures taught me that there is more to a situation than the lust that could take over the entire moment.

What can we expect next from your work? 

Jonnah Bron: Who knows? Sometimes a particular subject comes along, and then I dive in. Whenever I have the time, I like to expand an already existing project of mine. A lot of my series are ongoing. You could definitely expect more projects including, but not limited to intimacy, nudity and sexuality.