During her residency at Jester, Helen Dowling will be continuing her research project, initiated in 2020 with the support of Sint Lucas Antwerp. 'Terms of Intimacy' engages the image of sexuality and femininity in mainstream pornography by developing strategies to repurpose the acting and means of production within custom pornography. As part of the research, wherein making plays a key role, Dowling will be working on a new film, in collaboration with Custom performers.
'Custom' or 'bespoke' porn, as it is referred to, caters not to the masses but individual clients, who engage in a dialogue with a small crew, and sometimes the actors themselves, to create a production that is tailored to their request, centred around their fantasies and curiosities, often overlooked in conventional pornography. The focus on the individual client produces renderings of sexuality and the feminine that cannot exist under the heavy hand of mainstream pornography production.
Dowling is interested in elaborating on the terms of dramaturgy, intimacy, production method, and labour by channeling them through the 'world' of custom, using its structures as theoretical and practical devices to address the female form beyond the realm of pornography, expanding on the limited and formulaic construction of the feminine and female persona in an oft over-saturated market.
In working together with a professional Custom team and entering an existing model of production, Dowling effectively allows a different structure into her practice, which in turn facilitates dialogue with an industry far removed from herworking methods and the language of art at large. The research situates itself within the context of contemporary image-making, and in particular, the discourses that argue for emancipatory modes of production and a reappraisal of the agency behind the representation of bodies in contemporary art.