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Corporeal by Spyros Rennt
Photography by Spyros Rennt

In Pursuit of Pleasure: 12 Sensual Photo Stories for Summer

From Coco Capitán’s naval adventure to Tina Barney’s opulent documentation of summers spent on the East Coast

Lead ImagePhotography by Spyros Rennt

Corporeal by Spyros Rennt (lead image)

“I love creating genuinely sexy images,” Spyros Rennt told AnOther earlier this month. Lensing strangers and friends embracing in sweaty nightclubs, kissing in their underwear, or skinny-dipping and showering, ‘sexy’ is precisely the right word for it. The Athens-born, Berlin-based photographer has now released his third book, Corporeal, documenting raves, house parties, parades and fetish events in an erotically-charged ode to hedonism and a freewheeling sexual liberation. “I have love for every person in front of my camera,” he says. “That’s how I bring out something special about them on film.”

Naïvy: in fifty (definitive) photographs by Coco Capitán

Coco Capitán loves an adventure. Following recent projects documenting locals in Kyoto and Siberia, the Spanish photographer and artist’s latest series, Naïvy, centres on the sea and all things naval. An early iteration of the series was previously exhibited at Maximillian William in 2020, but is now concluded with 50 photos shot across locations like the Caribbean, Mallorca, Sweden and New York state. Capitán has a prolific career as a fashion photographer, having shot for brands like Gucci, and here, her playful, sensual eye roves over idyllic seascapes, naked torsos, soiled boxers, glassy dildos, nighttime skinny dippers and fields of daisies with an acute curiosity. Drawing on the queer history of the naval costumes, many of the subjects wear classic 1940s sailor suits, queered with the addition of embroidered daisies or embroidered with the word ‘LOST’.

Glastonbury Festival 1971 by Paul Misso

The mud on the boots of this year’s Glastonbury Festival goers’ wellies may have only just dried, but the memories from the yearly celebrations transcend generations. Paul Misso’s IDEA-published book, In The Vale of Avalon: Glastonbury Festival 1971, showcase the photographer’s images from the festival for the first time, immortalising the moments that unfolded on its hallowed grounds in 1971. “As we arrived, everyone was smiling and coming up saying, ‘Welcome, great to see you!’ There was a sense of anticipation and electricity in the air,” Misso told AnOther. “When it rained, the wires sparkled and crackled – there was a tangible sense of energy.” Distilling the collective energy of the festival, its frolicking hippies and its budding romances, Misso’s images bear witness to a remarkable time in music history.

Curtains and Towels by Katie Burnett

Last year, Katie Burnett published I Wash You Dry, a surrealist mishmash of collages using her own body as a motif – contorted, exposed and somehow untamed – as well as expansive vistas and homemade puppets. Now, the New York-based stylist and self-taught photographer is back with a new book made in collaboration with SSENSE, Curtains and Towels, based on images from I Wash You Dry. “I love old photos, old movies but also just stuff that’s lying around, that I use every day”, Burnett told AnOther. “I like to give those items a new purpose, or life.” Curtains and Towels’ high tonal contrast and overlay of print and texture confounds the animate with the inanimate, playfully challenging our perception of the everyday.

Swimmers by Larry Sultan

There’s nothing quite like plunging into the cool cerulean waters of a pool on a hot summer day – but for photographer Larry Sultan, it was a spine-tingling feat. “When I was 12 I almost drowned in the ocean …. Water is the only bit of nature I know that we can’t control, that seems overwhelming when you enter it,” he told students at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1980. In the mid-70s, he entered the depths of the San Francisco Bay Area’s public pools to capture swimmers in an ethereal light, creating evocative, hallucinatory imagery while facing his own fears of death. Distorted by the refractions of waves and ripples, the resulting works have a beautiful, unsettling ambiguity that peel away the photographer’s fears. The series continued until 1982 and went largely unseen until last month, when MACK published a book of the lyrical, dreamlike images.

Home and Away by Alasdair McLellan

Identity and sense of locality are interlinked by Alasdair McLellan in his new two-volume book Home and Away, an honest portrayal of British youth culture spanning the past three decades. Finding beauty in moments of pause, the book traces the boundary between naive spontaneity and reflection, all the while retaining extraordinary proximity and mutual understanding between subject and photographer. “I do always want to take a beautiful image of something, even if that thing might not necessarily be deemed beautiful,” McLellan told AnOther, “but I guess it depends on what your idea of beauty is – obviously, I find a lot of car parks beautiful. Some people might be like, “Why do you like that car park?”

Good News by Kyle Weeks

Photographer Kyle Weeks first visited Accra, the capital of Ghana in 2016. “I got there at a time when this creative energy was bubbling and bubbling,” he told AnOther. “The youth [in Ghana] have such an authentic approach to creativity. They have a completely different frame of reference. It’s so authentic and unlike what I see in the Western world.” Over the next six years, he returned to Ghana intermittently, staging portrait sessions with their young locals, alongside shooting landscapes and still lives, which have now been compiled into a book, Good News. Defiant and confident, the free-spirited young generation looks onwards, impeccable in style. Cutting through the outdated tropes of Africa’s visual representation, they blur the conventions of masculinity and femininity, and mark a unique selfhood underrepresented in media.

Another World by Shae Detar

In stark, utopian landscapes – dunes, melting icebergs, lakes, mossy crags – Shae Detar lenses the bare bodies of her diverse subjects in a project that’s slowly been building over 13 years. Washed with a signature watercolour technique that she spent three years perfecting, the artist’s images are a sublime, otherworldly documentation that has helped heal Detar’s own fractured relationship with the body, and the traumas of her religious upbringing. “I was raised in a Christian cult,” she told AnOther. “I really struggled for years. It’s literally me finding that freedom, meeting women, hearing their stories and seeing how confident they are.”

Love Songs: Photography and Intimacy by Nan Goldin, Nobuyoshi Araki and more

In Love Songs: Photography and Intimacy, a new group exhibition at the ICP in New York, curator Sara Raza explores the notion of intimacy in photography. Dissecting all forms of intimacy including the physical relationship between photographer and subject, Raza considers how “sexual intimacy can be embedded in metaphor and simile”. Having been “emancipated” from their best-known work, photographers such as Nan Goldin, Nobuyoshi Araki, Clifford Prince King and Collier Schorr are given the space to explore the changing nature of intimacy.

The Beginning by Tina Barney

“I so deeply understood the perfection of my life, the splendour of the landscape, the houses and their interiors, and the people I cared for more than words can say,” writes Tina Barney in the introduction to her latest book, The Beginning. “These feelings were so profound that I had to do something about it. I wanted people to notice what was around them.” From 1976-1980, Barney photographed friends and family during summers on the East Coast, winters in Idaho and various spring vacations. With the help of a tripod to take her photographs ‘slowly’, Barney’s process is not rushed but instead, gives her scenes time to live in real-time, and eventually, live on through her lens.

Gnarly by David Ledoux

Published earlier this year, David Ledoux’s Gnarly is an unapologetically chaotic portrait of surfers and skaters in the south of France, all kitted out in London-based streetwear brand Aries. “The surf and the proximity to the ocean is a big pull – you’ll do anything to stay there”, says the French photographer. “It’s not about being super dynamic and competitive, it’s a different way of thinking, way of life.” Made in collaboration with stylist Phoebe Arnold, the book pays homage to 90s skater and surfer subcultures.

Bone by Sarah Piantadosi

Observing the palpable shift in the way young people view their bodies, London-based photographer Sarah Piantadosi set out to capture the new generation completely in the nude, in an interrogation into the growing notions of agency and shame. In place of clothing, flowers are a recurring motive through the series as a “symbol for standardised beauty.” The series has been compiled into a book titled Bone, with an aim to capture young people in their barest, and perhaps truest form. “Sometimes taking portraits feels straightforward,” Piantadosi told AnOther, “and then at other times it feels like there is a secret waiting to be revealed.”