With her project Visual Orgasms, artist Faith Holland simultaneously deals in humor and gender dynamics. "I was interested in the desire of media to represent an invisible sensation," she explains in an exchange over email, referring, naturally, to an orgasm. There are obvious examples of how certain forms of film approach this challenge; chief among them, Holland explains, is the "money shot" in pornography.
"Men externally ejaculate to 'prove' the veracity of their pleasure," she says, adding that "there's an obvious imbalance" in this depiction of orgasms — one that Holland aims to challenge with her art. She accomplishes her goal deftly, using GIFs of objects, rather than people, to visualize how an orgasm may feel while poking fun at the commonality (and silliness) of these very images.
Bombs go off, fireworks explode, volcanoes erupt. The viewer may recall running into these climax-stand-ins before, perhaps in a very old film or cartoon. These depictions only became tropes thanks to past censorship around the subject of sex, as well as general squeamishness. Visual Orgasms is an exploration of how we think about orgasms, how they actually feel, and where those two things may or may not intersect.
Click ahead for more on Holland's inspiration for her eye-popping GIFs.