Continuous Beings explores the blurring of sexuality and spirituality in the relationship between dominatrix, Aleta Cai, and her submissive, b. Eschewing D/s stereotypes muddied by expectations of sexual gratification, Aleta and b strive instead for spiritual transcendence.
In L’Erotisme, Georges Bataille attributes the liberating power of eroticism to its disruption of individual experience: “The whole business of eroticism is to destroy the self-contained character of the participators as they are in their normal lives.” When habits are disrupted, the mind and body are forced to adapt. Our positionality is shaped by our senses. Taking away one mode of perception amplifies the others, forcing us to re-imagine our surroundings.
In everyday life, b is a privileged individual accustomed to unchallenged acquiescence. Being forced into a vulnerable state re-directs energy to escape the bounds of social performativity and entrained codes of conduct. Aleta and b leverage carnality to produce a canvas for energy and power exchange. Ego, superego and id are liberated simultaneously. The freedom experienced by b is both etheric and anchored; it is the product of an awakening of the spirit, fulfilled through mind and body.
Aleta is approached by b with the same piety that traditionally is directed toward divinity. Accordingly, the photographs in the series adopt a palette and form derived from religious iconography and devotional objects. By appealing to art historical precedent, Continuous Beings aligns Aleta and b with traditions of spiritual expression while re-imagining the sources of their inspiration.