The creator of Four Chambers defines her initiative as "a project, an idea and an ongoing collaboration with the intention to explore the aesthetic and conceptual potential of pornography as a medium for ideas."
More precisely, it is a production company created in part by Vex Ashley, a former art student with a "background in analog photography, art school bullshit and digital sex online," she explains with a touch of humor.
Specialized in pornographic videos, Four Chambers is part of the cultural shift away from the traditional adult industry, which proliferates gender stereotypes and hierarchies and is designed to appeal to only a certain part of the population.
Vex thinks the traditional adult industry is on its way out. Four Chambers piqued our interest, so we decided to ask Vex Ashley a few quesitons about her "independent, DIY, conceptual, magical realism porn."
Porn as art
With her background in analog photography, Vex Ashley's images are art. She takes great care with the lighting and composition and a diverse range of bodies are made all the more beautiful in her lens.
Like her films, her photos are ethereal and poetic, while still preserving the rawness inherent in eroticism and sex. She doesn't see the need to make a distinction between her art and her pornographic film work, which she began in 2013:
"I was finishing art school and I wanted to see if I could put the same level of attention to concept and aesthetic into porn that I put into my artwork. I didn't really think porn had the potential to be a creative medium that would allow me to explore my ideas!"
In the same vein as Swedish porn director Erika Lust, but more amateur and DIY, she says, there is also an ethical intention behind her work. Far from being a business, the project is collaborative and crowd funded. "We simply want to explore the potential of what porn can say and do."
If her porn is open to everyone, it's likely because it's inspired by everything. Vex Ashley is fascinated by the way "sex is connected to transcendence" and is constantly looking for mystical references to include in her films:
"We explore a lot of religious and mythological references. Like a sort of Memento Mori painting, we like to use symbolism.
My favorite writers and creators are people like Emily Dickinson, Jorge Luis Borges, Nick Cave, and Louise Bourgeois. I hope our work falls somewhere among all those artists."
A unique vision
The photos taken on set and stills from Four Chambers films are a clear representation of their creative vision (Vex Ashley and an anonymous collaborator). They are not interested in the immediate, intense explicit gratification of traditional porn.
"We're interested in creating an atmosphere, and getting the viewer's imagination involved. We emphasize things that are usually secondary like breathing, touching and eye contact."
Just like in her films, Vex Ashley's photos reveal a desire to explore the contrast between soft, natural lighting and the raw neon lights of a nightclub. Quite simply, she wants to create something beautiful, conceptually interesting and "fucking fun" to make with inspiring people.
Casting aside all labels, Four Chambers exists "in-between genres of both art and pornography and [dismisses] the need for a definition of either."