Magazine article Tate Etc.

Robert Mapplethorpe's Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter 1979

Magazine article Tate Etc.

Robert Mapplethorpe's Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter 1979

Article excerpt

Two men pose for a photograph in their living room. The room is tastefully decorated with a select number of antiques and curtains that hang to the floor, forming a backdrop for a glass table top that balances on stag antlers. The couple are in costume; kitted out in full leather, they are dressed as real men. The younger of the two sits in an armchair: he plays The Slave. The chains that shackle him are controlled by his partner, whose boots rest firmly on an oriental carpet - the kind you buy from a specialist dealer - and who is also holding a crop that rests on the armchair. He is playing The Master. Together, they have rehearsed the gestures and motivations of their specific roles. They have collaboratively demarcated a safe space, having outlined their limits and agreed on a safe word.

In sitting for the picture, they have invited Mapplethorpe to join their game. He plays The Photographer, and his task is to frame their private role play and make it public. …

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