Ben Westwood

The first thing I notice about Westwood's photos is the light. The images are never shadowy, never in the dark recesses of space or of the mind. They are proudly self-conscious and, one might almost say, sunny. The light ranges from garish fluorescent to crisp strobe to the warmth of sunrise. Westwood is not the only fetish photographer to eschew the cliché of darkness. It is as if the overly superstitious dark/light metaphor is simply no longer compelling (Didn't Bataille say that mud and shadows have long been viewed as a principle of evil?).

The other thing is the color. The presence of big wide swatches of an almost fauve lubricity certainty calls for attention. But again it is neither pretty nor intentionally ugly. Perhaps that polarity also needs to be done away with. If Matisse had been a fetishist he would have produced work in a spirit much like that of many of Ben Westwood’s photographs (Spirit and not style since Westwood’s color and lighting are his own). Westwood does not portray the world of bondage and discipline in shadow and darkness. It is for him as lucid and unequivocal as a burger joint or a hubcap store.