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The Eroticism of the Subconscious

DreamJohn Santerineross is a New York based “image maker” who has been referred to by the media as “the world’s leading neo-symbolist photographer of our time.” Like the symbolists of the past, John’s controversial photographic art explores ageless taboos using a combination of dark themes and sexuality which are inspired by subconscious dream imagery, religious iconography and Jungian archetypes.

“Dream” is John’s second book of erotic photography, five years after the release of his first hardcover: “Fruit of the Secret God” which is now a limited edition collector’s volume retailing at $500.00 a copy.

John denies the use of digital manipulation in his photographic works and all photographs are created in-camera. The images for “Dream” are constructed realities that are created using elaborate staged sets that he builds in his studio together with an arrangement of strange props, and nude models in obscure—and sometimes explicit—metaphorical narratives.

The themes are often disturbing and provocative, pushing the boundaries of what is considered forbidden. To illustrate this point, two images come to mind. The first shows a young woman sitting on a bed, nude, except for a pair of white panties that are stained with blood as she smears her menses over her body. Behind her hang several pair of soiled underwear and a small doll who sits in the corner staring at the viewer, as if to implicate us in the act of voyeurism.

In the second, another young woman sits in the corner of a wooden box and lifts her dress to reveal her shaved pussy to a stuffed bear who is presented, like the spectator, with a perfect view. She has bloody bandages on her thighs and wrists, while blood-stained ink blots hang on the walls behind her. Both these images suggest taboo concepts including pubescent sexuality, abject bodily fluids, exhibitionism and voyeurism, as well as the ritual of self-mutilation.

Despite their disquieting subject matter, these images like others in the book remain tantalizingly erotic and visually beautiful, illustrating a juxtaposition between the sacred and profane. Other themes evoke the mythic as well as the uncanny using symbolism, religious iconography, along with gothic and s/m elements that are perverted and distorted into new ideologies meant to both arouse and incite the viewer.

“Dream” is a 9″ x 12″ hardcover book featuring 120 full colour pages of striking sepia photographs. It is an intriguing work of eroticism, as well as artistic. John has also just released a DVD: “John Santerineross-Neo-Symbolist Photography” that features his first short art film, entitled “Child, Doll or Bone” which is described as “a disturbingly beautiful look into the mind of a ‘cutter.’ Also included are imagery from both books. You can purchase “Dream” from

Dream: The Dark Erotic Photographic Visions of John Santerineross
Attis Publishing, 2004
(120 pages, 50 images)

Images © John Santerineross Attis Studios.

This review was originally featured in Lucrezia Magazine.

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