A Tender Dissolution
Shibari is an artistic form of Japanese rope bondage, there are many different interpretations of it’s history, but most of it all comes down to the modification of judicial hojojutsu and the ukiyo-e woodblock prints of various torture techniques. However The Japanese art of kinbaku ‘tight binding’ is primarily aesthetic, as opposed to the more provocative art that kinbaku aims to express. The practice has diverse forms, most notably ‘Connective Rope’ which delves into intimacy, ‘Artistic Rope’ which is shaped around aesthetics and ‘Beauty in Suffering’ to which the subject is positioned in contortions designed to create controlled reactions.
Most are quick to judge and slow to understand its practice and surrounding culture, although Shibari is a delicate art with the ability to be as soft and beautiful or as harsh as the practitioner desires, the common attribute I observed about Shibari is the building of trust. A key ingredient the artist must develop on their journey to ‘rope space’, where the rope partner will go through a series of consensual gates and will no longer try to control their environment, becoming relaxed in a state of bliss. The rope adopts the role as the messenger in this journey from mind-set to another, with the effects of Shibari being said by those involved to reduce anxiety, depression and an improved mental well being for up to weeks afterwards.
Shibari requires years of dedication and practice, the rope alone is treated with great respect. Jute is the rope of choice, burnished and bathed in beeswax and camellia oil, slowly baked and the process repeated to create a soft yet strong binding rope. The care of the subject being tied is matched by the artists’ ceremonial like care of the rope. There’s a unique trust, respect and detailed understanding of one another when Shibari is performed.
‘A Tender dissolution’ started as a series towards exploration and curiosity, but somewhere along the way I fell in love with the people that care so deeply for their art and those around them. I can only hope that this series gives you the insight to accept the unknown, without judgement and to expand your curiosity to seek out the beauty in the taboo.
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