Brooklyn based multimedia artist Emily McMaster has created a provocative video series featuring one shot scenes of masochism. Her work invites us into intimate and unsettling moments that provoke questions of power dynamics. Each work is a test for the squeamish, a pit of anxiety, and a platform for confusion and quandary. When entering the work, it remains unclear whether these acts are that of pleasure or torture. It remains unclear who is empowered and and who is dominated. Within her piece Steeple, McMaster sews her fingers together in a gesture from a childhood hand game. She struggles to break the ties, only to be unsuccessful and greeted with blood. Perhaps this piece speak of the disfunction within power structures, the loss of innocence, the impurity of self destruction. Baby’s Breath begins with the act of a masculine arms covering the head of the topless, red lip stick stained artist with a plastic bag. Again, the question of pleasure versus pain, power versus abuse, and in this particular video, female subjection. Her work is powerful, allusive, and perfectly hard to watch.
The following is her artist statement;
“Emily McMaster is a Brooklyn based artist who studied Printmaking at Bard College and The University of New Mexico. Her work, whether solo or in collaboration, focuses on delicacy, remarks on femininity, draws from fetish, and values playfulness above all else. She couldn’t put an x-acto knife down for a decade, but has recently swapped it out for a video camera. Baby’s Breath and Steeple are recent examples of this transition. With this new work Emily explores her endurance by confronting specific physical challenges. In this process she showcases texture, vulnerability, and masochism.”