Home » The Beauty, Gore and Unadulterated Smut of a 25-Year-Old Woman’s Relationships

The Beauty, Gore and Unadulterated Smut of a 25-Year-Old Woman’s Relationships

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A new photo book from Sydney-based photographer, artist and musician R.Bliss is 158 pages of “nudity, smut and gore”. A visual memoir of sorts, capturing a “messy 25-year-old’s life”, Bliss described it as the most vulnerable work she’s ever done. 

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

Inside the tome titled LOVE is an eruption of evocative snapshots, oscillating across timelines, themes and narratives, from contorted bodies caught in moments of intimacy, to stylised shoots, to diary pages, their neat cursive constraining vivid emotion, vignettes illustrating worlds beyond most civilians’ imaginations, tender, loving relationships, and everything in between. 
Speaking with VICE, Bliss said the book’s raw and unapologetic approach was a deliberate attempt to “release shame through loving tendencies.” “It’s a 25-year-old woman’s documentation and observation of her loving relationships that span across romantic to familial, to friendships to strangers,” Bliss told VICE.“Like the experience of feeling like a bit of a voyeur in your own life, and then trying to make something physical out of that feeling.”

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

Bliss said the ideal message in the book – “overall, overarching, and overwhelmingly” – was to “lead with complete and utter vulnerability, even if you are unsure.”Right now, she said she thought there were a lot of outside forces pushing creatives to subdue, refine and curate, and “make everything artificially contextualised”.“You share the best, most clean parts of yourselves,” she said.“I think there’s a fundamental kind of drive to destroy that and go with something that is a reflection of a messy, real life. And just speak to the honesty of that.”

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

Viewed through the lens of its title, the theme ripples across the pages. In queer partying, in sex with older men, in eroticism, menstrual blood, religious iconography, in nature. Muses, vaginas, tattoos and lines. Bliss says the muses in the book include “Friends and lovers and family and people that I’ve met that were willing to be vulnerable with me.”“There’s a lot of queer clubbing culture, and then there’s the fashion industry, and then there’s personal relationships. It’s a threading between all of the worlds through one living person.”
“There would be no book without people, photography’s obviously a medium so dependent on your connection to people,” she said.

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

Bliss said, as someone who has experienced a lot of sexual and personal shame, she thought the book had been “a way of understanding how to love and create out of it”. A way of “witnessing it and not shying away from the beautiful and the ugly parts of it all.”The images in the book span almost a decade. “There’s some photos that I took when I was a teenager, there are photos of me from lovers when I was young. And then there are things I took a month ago that I added last-minute,” she said.“It’s sort of a mixed bag of ‘coming into adulthood’”.

​r.bliss x MOM publishing: “LOVE” [supplied]

Bliss said the act of taking photos was her way to connect to others, as an introvert it was an accessible tool to connect with people and offer something back in exchange. “I hope that it resonates as a project that’s come from a place of loving witness,” she said.“And that includes witnessing myself and my own desire to document and share and make public things… things that I think have happened within everybody’s lives, to some extent.”“LOVE”, a collaboration with Melbourne-based independent publishers MOM Publishing, will be released this Friday. The Sydney book launch is to be held at LUNA studios in Newtown on Friday, May 31.Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

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