Exploring Black Women's Sexuality and BDSM in NYC's Oldest Dungeon
by Larissa Pham
The one-night-only art installation and performance "Sexual Fragments Absent" transformed Manhattan's oldest dungeon with emoji videos, disturbingly beautiful sculptures, and interactive play performances.
On a monitor high above the space glowing with red light, a woman cuts her tights open to reveal her shaved pussy. She inserts an internal condom, then a speculum—the metal's glint exaggerated by sparkling gifs that dance playfully on the surface of the screen—and slowly begins to crank it open. You can see her stomach ripple as she breathes deeply, taking the extension, which surely must be painful; what appears in the open gap of the speculum is an uncertain space, a void. After a moment, she folds a series of dollar bills and puts them in the space that she's created, then, removing the wad of dollar bills, she shows them to the viewer. On the screen, words flash: "I'VE MADE THIS SPACE FOR YOU." Heart emojis spiral on vertical axes and give off sparkles. I watch the video through one time, then again, even though I don't really want to, clutching at my stomach and feeling slightly sick.
"Did that hurt?" I ask the artist, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, now seated next to me at the bar. The same video is playing on a monitor behind the counter, and I'm having trouble looking at it, but I also can't bring myself to look away.
"Ugh, yes," she says, laughing at my horrified expression.
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