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Baron Books

WEDGIES by Bejamin Fredrickson

Regular price $50.00


Hardback book

90 pages

280mm x 330mm

Delivery July/Aug 2024

Wedgies, Baron's latest book, documents the wedgie subculture - through the lens of photographer Benjamin Fredrickson - for the artist's debut book. This series, created over four years, shows male subjects provocatively-positioned and given extreme or “atomic” wedgies (where underwear is pulled up above the subjects' heads).

As an avid participant in the scene, Fredrickson is uniquely positioned as an insider. His works go beyond documentation, to possess an erotic charge that accompanies the artist's pleasure. He receives many requests from future participants, via social media, and is supported by the wedgie community. The agency of the sitters— even as they are dominated and objectified— is crucial to Fredrickson's work, as they help to co-construct by asserting their self-hood and desires.

As described by theorist and S/M practitioner, Michel Foucault, “kink” provides the opportunity for "inventing new possibilities of pleasure; [as] a kind of creation, a creative enterprise." Fredrickson's photographs go beyond the physical, and affirm the artistic potential of kinky collaboration— the images are born from the sitters and photographer coming together to fulfil their desires. Moreover, since Fredrickson is the one giving the wedgies (either with his own hands, or using a series of elaborate contraptions to hold the underwear up), the images are shot from the dominant partner's perspective. Sometimes, the photographer's shoes or crotch are visible in the shots, and this can lend the images a POV perspective that invites the viewer to ogle the bodies and wedgies on display, and to become a third participant in the dynamic. The subjects face away from the viewer and remain anonymous, so that they are further objectified, and the focus is concentrated on the stretched underwear and the form of the sitters' bodies. Fredrickson states, "For this project, the body is used as a prop to make the wedgie shine. The wedgie is the work".

Since the ass is the vehicle for the wedgie, it is naturally a focal point for the images. Butts have occupied a prevalent visual role throughout history. Fredrickson approaches the ass with a distinctly queer subjectivity, however, as the masculinity of his sitters is central to the images’  aesthetics, and homoerotic lust is at the heart of the project.

There is also an element of denial contained within the visuals; in the artist's own words: "The wedgie leaves something to the imagination. You know that there is a butthole under the fabric just waiting to be pulled aside and exposed, but it's not". The literal tension of the straining fabric gives way to metaphorical erotic tension, as the photographer and viewer long to see more of the ass but are ultimately denied the full vision.

Wedgie fetishes vary for each individual and can encompass multiple elements of a BDSM dynamic. At its core, this fetish involves an established power play between the giver and receiver of the wedgie, as in Fredrickson's images, where the photographer is in the dominant role. The wedgie involves both psychological and physical domination of the submissive partner, together with a sadomasochistic aspect, as the discomfort and pain of the wedgie are a source of pleasure for both participants. Since this fetish is tied to a schoolyard prank, it also touches on aspects of bullying and degradation as well as subconscious desires from early development. The somewhat taboo nature of this kink further allows for an exploration of the close relationship between shame and desire. Wedgies also involve an aspect of bondage; in Fredrickson's work, models are restrained by the wedgies they receive. For the medium of photography, this arrested motion is particularly captivating— the subject is held in place by the taut fabric of their underwear and permanently bound in the still image of the photograph.

Benjamin Fredrickson (b. Minneapolis, MN, USA, 1980) is a New York City-based photographer whose images centre around queer fetish subculture. He attended Parsons Paris and attained a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has exhibited work at Daniel Cooney Fine Art (NYC), the Museum of Arts and Design (NYC), the National Arts Club (NYC), Yale School of Art (New Haven, CT), and the Leslie-Lohman Museum (NYC). Fredrickson's work has also been reviewed in publications including i-DThe New Yorker, and OUT MagazineWedgies is the artist's first book.