Monday, May 22, 2006

Let there be light

Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from Hindustan Times

A photographer makes erotic lampshades that are a feast to the eyes and some more

Shevlin Sebastian

At David de Souza’s exhibition of erotic lamps at Tranceforme, the lifestyle store at Worli, one is immediately struck by a lamp designed in the form of a pointed penis, with two large testicles on either side. The name of the exhibit is pasted on the floor. As I read it out aloud, “The seven inch penis,” de Souza corrects me immediately saying: it’s 7 feet. “We are so used to blurting out our size all the time,” I say, not very truthfully, to explain my faux pas but he laughs sportingly.
De Souza, dressed casually in Bermuda shorts, a short-sleeved shirt and sandals, shows me a lamp, called ‘the zipless fuck’. It is made of fluorescent acrylic and lets in ultraviolet rays, if placed near a window, allowing it to work in the daytime, as well. Small openings in the acrylic resemble the vagina. When I step back and look at it, the overall form suggests a phallus. At the bottom, in front of the lamp, the book, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong is placed, in a standing-up position. “Jong had coined the phrase, ‘the zipless fuck’ in the early sixties and it became a catch phrase for women during that era,” says de Souza. “It still has a ring to it.”
Another lamp, called ‘Switch Bitch,’ is a stainless steel and brass beauty that also has a literary allusion. This lamp, inspired by the Roald Dahl book of the same name, has a copy of the tome placed at its base. The interesting thing is that the nipples are the switches. So, you feel a little unreal when you tweak the switch and get no reaction at all.
Next, De Souza leads me to another design that mirrors a fertility goddess. “I have been inspired by Russian sculptor Mikhail Chemiakin’s sculpture, which I saw in Manhattan,” he says. “It had 49 breasts on a single pole.” de Souza’s creation is somewhat similar, but thankfully, with a lesser number of breasts.
Just beside it is a lamp made of Absolut vodka bottles, and is called ‘Absolution’. “This is my tribute to the world famous Absolut ad,” he says. “I collected some bottles from Chor Bazaar, friends contributed some and I asked a few hotels to give me their empties.” Asked why the name, ‘Absolution’, he says, “It means forgiveness: ‘Forgive me, for I am drinking’.” Incidentally, most of the pieces were made at the fabricator’s workshop.
A biochemist, de Souza switched to photography 15 years ago and made his mark as a commercial photographer. This project was birthed when Purvi Parikh, (the owner of Tranceforme), spotted some lamps designed out of junk at de Souza’s home. She asked him if he would do a show of lamps. Since de Souza frequently photographs nudes, he suggested an exhibition of erotic lamps and Parikh agreed. “These are great lamps,” she says. “Of course, it cannot be put in everybody’s homes. People need to have a certain size of home and a certain type of furniture to go with it.” The sizes and sensibility are not the only prohibiting factors—the prices are pretty steep, as well. The lamps start at Rs 15,000 and go up to Rs 55,000. Being titillated can be quite expensive.

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