​© 2020 alex dermatis

  • Alex Dermatis

between the lines - a note on bdsm, rope bondage and sexuality


This is my first time working with the medium of video. I usually work with live performance in front of an audience. Each live performance is a session. An average session lasts ninety minutes to two hours. I do public sessions on stage and private ones in my studio. Due to the circumstances of my work, the last three years, I have gone through an estimate of six-hundred sessions.


I began this project wanting to document an aspect that every session shares, no matter where it takes place. This aspect is made out of the physical language I employ with my partners and the emotional dialogue it conveys. For my partners and I, is as the magnitude of this phenomenon creates a bubble of warm energy, where we enter and lose ourselves, throughout each session - a sea of sensations, that clears our minds and connect us, through each other to the present moment.


During my stage sessions, the narrative of the emotional dialogue, although always on display, often gets buried underneath the spectacle of the overall installation. Video allowed me to manipulate the visual emphasis in a way that performance doesn't; it allowed me to present the inside of the bubble, by picturing its physical manifestation; and also to do it in a fast manner, summarizing the dialogue of the entire session down to four minutes.


Other than that, most elements are pretty sincere in this moving-image presentation. The footage was collected during a three-hour-long session, a midsummer weekday in my studio in Kreuzberg. We used natural light and a hand camera. The session was improvised, as usual. Two or three times, my cinematographer asked me to go back and repeat the last part. I was a bit of a drama queen about it.


Isolode, my screen model, is a dear friend of mine. We developed this project together from the start. Our relationship was never based on a bdsm/sexual practice, although such practices have become so present in my life that most of my friends have been introduced to them. The session we documented here, was the third session we ever had together.


From the start I saw this project as a pilot and an introduction into a series of videos. The level of kinkiness pictured here belongs into the softer spectrum of my usual work; the session is lacking impact play, for example, and personally I can't even remember the last time I had a session without impact play. As an introduction, I wanted it to be accessible to people outside the bdsm scene. I wanted to demonstrate how physical pain can be negotiated gently without violation; and how restriction and dominance can be delivered inside a cloud of affection.


It's all about a physical negotiation of space after all: rope bondage, bdsm, sexuality, bodywork, partner acrobatics, contact improvisation, tango.., walz… Two bodies come close until they find the golden line in between, in which if they are able to stay and balance, the two bodies connect and produce the most colorful and stimulating dance; the greatest choreography. Ultimately, human beings, who learn to negotiate space on this level with one another, acquire abilities of emotional sensitivity and physical responsiveness that make them more evolved beings in general: conscious bodies sharing a universal language beyond words and cultures; better citizens, good friends, great lovers.


Alex Dermatis, September 2019

48 views