Hi Andy! Tantric Rope bondage! How is it tantric? What kind of tantra are you connecting it to? White, red, black, Hindu, Buddhistic, or TNT?
I have received this question many times, so I wanted to answer properly here. First off, I’m NOT a tantric historian. I started to learn rope bondage in the BDSM community. It was about 10 years ago that I got invited to share my knowledge in various different tantric gatherings. It started with Sexsibility in Sweden that is much inspired by Barbara Carellas Urban Tantra. Funnily enough, I’ve heard it said that Barbara regrets calling it “Tantra” in the first place because of this question in particular. Because in essence what we practice is a handful of concrete technique and values, that makes sense alone, without connecting them to a spiritual and mystical legacy. It doesn’t matter if you associate the techniques with a Hindu or Buddhist deity, or none at all because they work anyway (for most people). But the question is still important, so I’ll explain myself deeper.
One of the reasons why I started the man and the machine project was to explore how to create an space that was holding it self. In a one-on-one session I’m holding space for the other person, by actually continuously adapting to the client. In a workshop I shape the space by selecting exercises and guiding along the way. But I’ve also been curious about how much the space can do by itself.
This is an description of the technology behind the interactive soundscapes that I’ve mainly been building as a part of the man and the machine project. It is aimed for non-nerds to explain what I do to artist of other disciplines.
The technology is modular. This means that is works like lego bricks, so it can be picked apart and reassembled in many different ways. That allows the evolution of project, so similar to a theatre production, I do rehearsals to learn more about how I want the lego bricks to be put together. The final result is some kind of machine that interacts with the human outside.
“Basically most of us will get turned on at night by the very same things that we will demonstrate against during the day.”
–Esther Perel, the secret to desire in a long-term relationship
Bondage, discipline, submission, sadism, and masochism are the pillars of BDSM. They are conscious taboos in our everyday life, but they are equally strong in our subconscious, governing both our sexuality and creativity. We are often tempted to explore them unconsciously in destructive relationships, lasting a night to a life-time. Or trivialising them to an embarrassing 50 Shades of Gray clique (or Harlequin novel if you were born before 1980). Instead, in this retreat, we will explore BDSM through rituals, that act as frames that we can consciously relate to and reflect upon. This enables, on one hand, a safer space and clearer communication, and on the other hand a deeper experience, as we follow a known path that works together.
This photo shot together with Joakim Erixson Flodman from 2018 was a continuations of RAW:MOTIONS. We wanted to explore what kind of motion that is born out of restriction. It was shot at the top on Hammarby Backen i Stockholm on a sunny summer afternoon.
One way to think of zen is a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.
Semenawa can be defined as rope that creates a feeling of helplessness and endurance, often with the use of pain and discomfort.
In both Zen and Semenawa a key is the practice of letting go. Letting go of comparing the present experience with experiences from the past or future. No longer attempting to change the present, but accepting it while still being responsible for one’s emotional and physical well-being. Practicing this paradox is the theme of this weekend.
Semenawa can bring the height of dramatic expression and the depth of trust. It teaches us to slow down and tune into a universe of intimate nonverbal communication. The beauty of semenawa is the raw emotions that form a strong bond of trust and vulnerability between the top and the bottom.
People often ask why one would like to be tied or tie another person. The answer is always vulnerability in the polarity between surrender and holding power. When done in a consensual and loving way it empowers intimacy, healing, and growth.
Today I met the pain
Raw, strong and fierce
And suffering had to leave
Through the magic of letting go
Today, I met with shame
Through humiliation and enjoyment
It welcomed and already had to leave
Was in a hurry to visit other’s homes
Today, I met with my shadow
And it was not so scary
One step closer to freedom
Shadow has been diffused by light
Today I saw a dragon
Spitting flames in the evening sky
Stretching wings stretched out over the sea
Witnessed only by few boats
This is Freedom
This is Life
Hand in hand with sadness, anger and joy
Hand in hand with pain and with blaze of pleasure
This is Freedom
This is Life
All feelings are OK
Another writing early writing on playfullness and play parties from the early days, written in Swedish.
“Let’s try a metaphor. Imagine a human being as an artichoke. The artichoke’s tough, spiny leaves are the innumerable shields we put up to defend that which is must tender and sought after – the heart. We can tear tan artichoke’s leaves off to get at its heart, just as we can attack a person; but there is a much easier and more effective way. If we steam the artichoke, it surrenders its leaves, exposing and sharing its heart with us. In the same way, play does not attack a person’s defences. Play creates an environment in which we drop our shields and share our tender human heart, which is what we all want in the first place. But if our shields are ripped off from the outside, we try to build even stronger ones. In play we interact heart to heart, without any of our cultural separations.”
“What motivates some people to forego security and explore outside the cultural limits? We must believe that faith, that life is more than we are told, that it goes beyond the ordinary cultural means to give. The power of play lives in its timeless pattern of sharing. It does not seek to obliterate or transform differences. It allows for interaction because it operates on a deeper level where there are no differences that make a differences.”
“We must somehow trust that there will be something to hold us if we let go of the sociocultural norms within which we are enmeshed. Constantly confronted as we are with the uncertainty and mystery of life, we may know that total security is illusory. But illusion or not, we think and act as if our culture is a security blanket. To conceive of coming out from under it requires fearlessness.”
We Are Play was one of my early projects to explore BDSM and sexuality in a playful way. I did together with my friend Denice. This was our manifesto written in Swedish.
Another of my early play parties on theme a decadent dinner, and what happens when hosts, guests, servants, and entertainers meet. The description is written in Swedish.
One of my first play parties with the theme POWER, and our relationship to it. What will you do with the power, and what does the power do with you. The description in written in Swedish.
GRÄNSLANDET (the in-between space in Swedish) was a public play party that I organized twice during 2o15. My ambition was to explore the exhibtionism and voyeurism in erototism. The space offered around 20 miniatur stage defined by stage lighting in a dark space. To focus on the present experience, all talk was banned outside the stages. This create an audience witnessing the play. The first party had 100 visitors, and the second one 300. I wanted to use live musicians that could adapt to the room, and artist drawing what was happening as an form of documentation. I decided to not repeat the experience until I had something to – to go deeper.
What does bondage look like in Japan? What is the aesthetic that we inspire to reach? These amazing photos by Ken Buslay speaks that to me. The decaying forest. The suffering body. Raw.
This was an eight week long course that I made to teach the, for me, most important skills to have a interaction in a play space. It was ran three times during 2016 and 2017.