Purple Magazine
— S/S 2009 issue 11

Sam Guelimi

Polaroids by Sam Guelimi, Carnet de chair et d’artifice, Taschen, June 2009

interview by OLIVIER ZAHM 

OLIVIER ZAHM — Where did the idea for this book come from?
SAM GUELIMI — It came to me after a critical night with my lover. It was the opposite of what I’d experienced with men up until then. My lover, an older man, was very excited by the fact that I’d been with a lot of other men and that, in fact, I’d just been with someone else. This was also the discovery of the character in my book. She sees that the man becomes excited by hearing about her other liaisons, and this confuses her: the man she really loves, the older man, needing his own desire validated by the desire other men have for her, and his being erotically stimulated by it. Slowly this becomes a game that also excites her, always bringing her back to him.

OLIVIER ZAHM – What exactly did she say to him?
SAM GUELIMI — That particular night she says to him, “Now I’ll come back scratching at your door a little dirtier each time.” After that she writes him a letter, which is in the book, saying that if this is what he wants, she’ll become his disgusting little girl, and she’ll get better and better at it.

Polaroids by Sam Guelimi, Carnet de chair et d’artifice, Taschen, June 2009

OLIVIER ZAHM — How does he react?
SAM GUELIMI — It’s terrible for him. At the end of the book I wrote, “He no longer sees the girl in front of him, only the 10 guys behind her.”

OLIVIER ZAHM — What’s that mean?
SAM GUELIMI – That each guy leaves his stain on her. She perfectly assimilates the desire of others, and becomes adept at simulating it, and this much degradation becomes more and more difficult for him to see. This is what the pictures seek to evoke.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Who took the pictures?
SAM GUELIMI — At first she asked her lovers — lovers, or whomever she’d been with, to take them. But at the end it could have been anyone. She chooses Polaroids because they’re instantaneous, like fast sex, sex that you can have anywhere, with anyone, at any time.

Polaroids by Sam Guelimi, Carnet de chair et d’artifice, Taschen, June 2009

OLIVIER ZAHM — So did you tell the men how to take the pictures of yourself?
SAM GUELIMI — Yes. Each man’s desire suggested to me a different woman to portray. I wanted them to see what I saw in their desire. I showed them, without telling them, and the way I positioned myself revealed what they should see.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Finally, though, they’re just nude pictures. What’s different about them?
SAM GUELIMI — You’re right, there’s nothing new about a naked woman in front of a camera. But these pictures reveal varieties of masculine desire confronting feminine desire. What’s more, there’s something outside of the pictures: the invisible portrait of the man for whom I’ve invited other men to have pleasure with me. In this book I become a number of women. There’s also the progressive disappearance of the woman I was before I encountered this man.

Polaroids by Sam Guelimi, Carnet de chair et d’artifice, Taschen, June 2009

OLIVIER ZAHM — What’s the feeling you’re trying to convey in these pictures?
SAM GUELIMI — A feeing of frustration. I want the viewer, the one I’m inviting to look at me, to feel excluded because the picture has been taken at a moment before, or right after, anything happened; two minutes before or after he might have seen an orgasm on the face of the girl. It’s this frustration that interests me.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What’s the connection of the pictures to the texts?
SAM GUELIMI — This diary is entirely written for this dirty old man, this lover for whom my character will do anything. This is why she speaks so directly to him, although not in a narrative way. Everything is completely disconnected — what she likes to do, what she thinks, what happens or what might happen. It’s all fragmented. Everything happens in the streets and hotels of Paris. At the end I gave my lover the original diary.

OLIVIER ZAHM — How did the book affect your life?
SAM GUELIMI — It became a pretext for me to have pleasure. Instead of staying at home with my lover, in our conjugal intimacy, this book, happening as it did in the streets, changed my sexuality — it evolved its own erotic logic. All the men I invited into my game slowly discovered that they were in a trap. But what I really enjoyed about the experience is the fact that I couldn’t stop the train once it got rolling.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Did you use the men, or manipulate them in any way?
SAM GUELIMI — Absolutely. The men were used by me, even before meeting me, even before using me for their own pleasure. They were also used, before any contact was made, for a private personal ceremonial, the ceremony of expectation, the ceremony of transformation, which I love so much. The music, the choice of clothes, shoes, and perfume: these things comprise the pleasure that arrived before the meeting. And the Poloraid images captured the end of the ceremony.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Are these men part of a community, in any sense?
SAM GUELIMI — As Bataille said, they are part of the community of those who have no community. The only thing they had in common, whatever you think of them, was me, my obsession, and the contact they had with luxurious clothes, soft skin, and the cruelty of the erotic language.

[Table of contents]

S/S 2009 issue 11

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