In a new photo series, artist Laila Majid explores the relationship between the seductive and the repulsive
There’s something about tongues that makes them equal parts alluring and grotesque. Undeniably sexual they also possess a certain quality that can quickly turn the sensual into the disturbing, even the gross.
It’s within this space of tension that artist Laila Majid operates, teasing out both the seductive and repulsive possibilities in her exploration of the human body. In a new photo series, we see this tension play out as Majid juxtaposes the softness of bodily flesh and fluids with the impenetrable metal tools that interact with the mouths. The result is visceral images that you can’t help but look at.
Here, we speak to the artist about the images and using tongues as a beauty canvas.
Tongues are an unexpected beauty canvas. What is it about them that you are drawn to?
Laila Majid: The tongue possesses a curious malleability of form. I am interested in its material slipperiness and fluidity. There is something inherently sensual about the tongue— its wetness, the idea that it connects the interior space (within the mouth) to exterior space surrounding the body. I am drawn to this sensuality, particularly in the ways in which sensuality and desire can be subverted.
Do you enjoy creating uncomfortable work?
Laila Majid: I don’t set out with the intent of causing discomfort. Rather, I enjoy exploring the relationship between seduction and repulsion. The images and videos produced for this shoot are impactful and captivating precisely because they exist in the space between the uncomfortable and sensual, and the seductive and repulsive.
What do you think your images say about beauty and conventional mainstream standards?
Laila Majid: I believe that these images are about subversion: For example, the motif of the classic red lip is juxtaposed with the uneasy image of a tongue licking an eyeball, or the mound of jelly which contains unidentifiable biological matter. These juxtapositions create moments of tension, which I hope challenge convention. The merging of the seductive and repulsive enable new representations of beauty to emerge.
Artist Laila Majid
Concept and creative direction Ben Ditto
Photography and direction James Deacon
DOP Sam Hooper
Makeup Verity Cumming using YSL Beauty
Nails Sylvie MacMillan
Models Laila Majid
Retouch Studio RM
Assistant editor Glen Travis