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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

Work / Publication

Polly Brown photographs the places people have had self-induced orgasms

Open Little Deaths, the sweet new publication by photographer Polly Brown (the very same who photographed office plants in the world’s biggest companies), and if you’re not at home with French euphemisms you might believe you’re looking at photographs of places where a person experienced their first kiss, say, or ate a really good BLT. You’re not, of course – a “little death,” as translated from the French “petit mort” is an orgasm, and Polly is interested in those of the self-induced variety.

“It came about completely by accident,” Polly explained to me last week. She had been in the darkroom with a couple of friends, also photographers, when one of them revealed that they and once found themselves enjoying “a self-induced descent” as she so sweetly puts it, under the red safelights. “One by one, it came out that quite a few of us had,” she continues, “and it became this kind of competition…”

“One of my close friends replied to my email almost instantly. He just said ‘on your sofa.’”

Polly Brown

Shortly afterwards Polly set up an email account to which friends, colleagues and acquaintances could anonymously submit their own secret places, and quickly found herself inundated with replies. “I wanted it to feel almost like a confessional,” Polly explains. “Some of the entries were repeats, but otherwise a lot of them made it into the book.” Some were especially surprising, she continued. “One of my close friends replied to my email almost instantly. He just said ‘on your sofa.’”

The book is quietly sexual, almost winking in its cheeky, knowing way. Other entries include Doing the Laundry, On the Eurostar and maybe best of all, My Step Mum’s Pillow, all of which are sumptuously lit and so rich in colour and detail that you almost can’t blame their subjects. Except maybe the perpetrator of the aforementioned pillow. The subtext to that one is just too heavy.

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths

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Polly Brown: Little Deaths