‘A Tender Dissolution’ is a project designed by top local photographer Aaron McPolin as exploration of the self, of others and of the acceptance of people’s differences. The series has been described by those within as a journey that is, in itself, a personification of the message behind the works.
Shibari rope art, simply meaning ‘to tie’, originates from an ancient Japanese form of rope bondage called Hojo-jutsu, the martial art of restraining captives. During the 1400’s and up until the 1700’s, the local police and Samurai would use Hojo-jutsu to restrain their captives, and the manner by which each prisoner was restrained would depend upon honour and status of each individual case. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s that a new form of erotic Hojo-jutsu, Kinbaku, arose involving the art of erotic bonding. Today, what we know as Shibari rope art is an art of erotic spirituality and not a martial art.
“I met a guy called Paul Kabzinski, who is a Shibari rope artist and he started educating me about the different types of rope,” McPolin tells me about his first encounter with the art form.
“So, you have rope which is for art, rope for intimacy, and rope which is for pain and beauty. You can intertwine them all together of you can just focus on one. For the purpose of this project we decided to focus on the one which is the rope art as an art form and how it can connect to people,” he said.
The aim of the project is to awaken people’s curiosity for a concept many may feel uncomfortable approaching. The need to judge others crops up in the back of our minds to varying degrees, however if are able to chip away at the need we would find that connecting with each other is much easier and especially so with those who have different ideals than our own.
“I was invited to a show – and it was my first ever show – they’d brought over this rope artist from Japan and this guy was incredible.” McPolin explains. “Paul (Kabzinski) said to me, this is what it’s all about, this is how it started. And this guy was doing this thing called ‘torture rope’, where they put people in different dimensions and then at the end they’d choked the girl steadily so she’d passed out. And that for me was quite confrontational but when she came to, she was all giggles and laughs,” he said. “And I thought, maybe it’s just me that needs to let go of my boundaries.”
It was after this show that McPolin began to delve into strange and different new ways of showing beauty, love, and affection. He felt that if he needed his horizons widened, he was sure many others would not mind educating themselves in a new method for pleasure and art that entices many on this earth.
“At first it was from curiosity, and then it was the people that I got involved with, everyone was so kind to one another and understanding. You could talk about anything without being judged,” he recalls. “I find that people outside that culture struggle with that sometimes, some people are not open or they judge you for having a certain idea of what’s beautiful or having different ways of connecting with another person. I find that it’s a way of connecting with people and I want people from all different backgrounds to treat each other in that way. Where you can be open to talk about subjects without being worried that what you’re going to say will offend someone or whether people are going to be judgemental towards you.”
The series is in it’s entirety a collaboration – a group effort; each component of the group as pivotal as the next. The construction of the suspensions; the initial illustrations to see whether it was even achievable in this way; the floral art, the rope art, the models and the photographer. McPolin explained to me how it was an absolute learning experience for all, and after a year and a half of work on this project, the team became more knowledgable as a unit – how to be more understanding, how to work and connect with other people around you.
“For me over the year making this project started to be systematically a way of me breaking down how I perceived the way people connect with each other and loved each other. Then we started seeing more performances and more people came on board like I brought in a florist called Samara (Faye) from Bloom Tribe and she started doing her own little twist on it and the more she learned about it, the more she wanted to make it softer. Avoiding any florals that talk about death or love. We didn’t want to talk so much about love, we wanted to talk more about the delicacy, the daintiness and how we could bring that in from the florals into the rope.”
The exhibition opens tonight at Studio 281 in Maylands, doors open at 7:00pm and the evening includes a live Shibari rope art performance for those that attend opening night.