Take it from me.

Ashley Markle

2019 - Ongoing

New York City, New York, United States

My work explores the many intricacies of sex, trauma, and intimacy, how they relate to each other and how I, as a young woman in the modern world, try to make sense of them. Early in my life I found that repressing memories and feelings made it easier to get through the dark times. Now at 24 I am left with blurred visions of what has happened to me and less of an opinion than I used to have. I shoot to gain those memories back and force myself to feel the joy and pain I have felt throughout my traumas by torturing myself mentally and physically during each shoot. As I seek out lost experiences in order to feel what I have stopped myself from feeling, my images often appear disjointed or uneasy. The emotions that seep out are a mix of my pieced together memory, what I think I felt in the moment, and how it makes me feel now that I am trying to unlearn everything I was taught as a child about being small, quiet, easygoing, and submissive; as well as learning how to consider myself strong as a victim of abuse.

This exploration into my repressed memories of sex, trauma and intimacy has brought me to analyze these three themes with a focus on how each cannot be easily defined or categorized. My images on sex seek to explore the animalistic and instinctual nature of the act. Sex can be an expression of love as well as an expression of hate. It can be used as a release or coping mechanism. It can be warm, it can be cold. We may find ourselves attracted to certain things in sex that go against our own morals. I view our sexual selves as an alter ego that we cannot control nor begin to understand the reasons behind our urges. I seek to paint a picture of these deep and dark thoughts and actions with implied gestures, disconnect between the subject’s body and face, and a subdued color palette with flashes of unnatural color to further communicate an uneasy feeling. Sex is also an experience of intimacy. And I have found that no dictionary definition of the word “intimacy” ever seems to completely explain what it means. So, I have begun to define it in my own terms through my images.

I shoot with medium format film and process my negatives in Photoshop. Shooting film allows me to take my time and become intimate with the shot as I put my all into each image. When the negatives are developed and I am the one physically handling them, this also makes me feel intimate with the images because I have to touch each of them with care, store them properly, and love them as if they were a part of me. I believe these intimacies translate into the final image. I mix the analog images with digital processing because while I enjoy the quality of color and light in film, I like to alter them with a touch of artificial colors, touch ups, and textures so that something in the image feels unnatural and uneasy.

While shooting my images on repressed trauma and sexual experiences I focus mainly on self-portraiture. This allows me to be intimate with myself and really focus on what is going on inside in order to draw out the memories and emotions. I like to add subjects to my self-portraiture to throw myself off and force myself to be completely vulnerable with someone else which is a very hard feat for me. This torturous act brings out the uncomfortable and out of control feelings I have experienced in my traumas. In my self portraiture I include the air cable release in every image to show the viewer that ‘I know you are watching me but I am the one in control.’

While I am exploring traumas specific to me, they are expressed in a broad fashion so that the viewer may see their own personal traumas through my work.

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