Artist and activist Angie Williams tells us the story behind her sex toy still life imagery, the causes that fuel her fire and of course some of her favourite smells…
Tell us the story behind these images and why you decided to use sex toys?
I have always been heavily attracted to sex and erotica, but it’s been a complicated relationship: on one hand, I am hypersexual and open about sex, on the other, my way to the sexual being I am now has been long and difficult. I’ve dealt with a lot of sexual frustration, questioning my own sexuality, and other taboos, which is why, I guess, I enjoy playing with everything sex-related in my work. I love that it makes people uncomfortable; this act of provoking (by something so normal and natural!) is just great.
It might not seem like it, but everything in my photos has a sexual connotation: I use fresh fruits and flowers which traditionally symbolize fertility, lust and/or sex organs. I always imagine I’m creating these opulent, gourmet table settings – only with a few sex toys thrown in!
Who do you hope will see them?
To be honest, I don’t really think of viewers when taking/publishing them. I just kinda put them out and hope someone will see them, but I don’t really think of who that could be.
What’s your favourite sex toy? Do you think that society is scared of the idea of women using sex toys outside of ‘sex’?
I started taking antidepressants a year ago and it’s made me much more sensitive to bodily sensations, and I’ve pretty much stopped using sex toys when masturbating so I’d say my fave toy atm is actually my good ol’ hand, haha. However, I once got the chance to try out Lelo’s Ina vibrator and wow, was that intense!
Sex toys in general are perceived as weird or dirty because they are seen as replacements for the “real deal”. Sex with others is supposed to be the best—or the only right—way of having sex, thanks to the reproductive, monogamous propaganda which loads stigma on sex toys. And since women’s sexuality is seen as immoral on its own, it is no wonder it is frowned upon when it’s combined with naughty, disgraceful toys! (lol)
Tell us about a beauty campaign that made you feel angry or ugly?
I remember there used to be a deodorant advert when I was a teen which said something like “even though you might not notice it, others can smell you sweating”. I’ve always been self-conscious about the way I smell and that was just the last straw, really. To this day, I am insecure about that and always think others must be disgusted by the way I smell even if I only sweat a little or forget to apply perfume! Such bullshit, right?
Tell us something about yourself that you once perceived as ugly/unattractive that you now love about yourself?
Well, I used to think of myself as unattractive in general and that has (luckily) changed, so I’d say my whole body. But if I had to choose one body part, it’d be my Slavic hips – I am so proud of them now!
What advice would you share with yourself 5 years ago?
Take care of your mental health. Stop downplaying what you feel – it is all legit.
Tell us a campaign or movement that is close to your heart and why?
Um, there are too many to pick one! It’s the Black Lives Matter month in Berlin at the moment, and I really love what the local community is doing: lots of talks, screenings, workshops… Knowledge is power!
What are your three favourite smells?
Jasmine, pine, and lavender.
Are you more of a witch or a bitch?