Sexual Selection – The Striking New Photo Book by Natacha Merritt

By on May 28, 2012

Sex, Art… and Insects. In 2000, Natacha Merritt released Digital-Diaries (Taschen) The 21 year old San Franciscan was photographing her sex life with her friends, masturbating with and without accessories, in bed, in the shower, in hotel rooms, from every imaginable angle and with the camera usually at arm’s length. Digital-Diaries allowed the reader a no-holds-barred insight into Merritt’s fantasies, desires, exploits and realities. Her controversial work was soon featured in diverse publications across the world from Rolling Stone to The Observer, from Playboy and Der Spiegel to Dazed and Confused. That book went on to become an L.A. Times and Amazon bestseller, selling over 300,000 copies. 

Merritt’s new book, Sexual Selection, is even more captivating. She applies her distinctive vision to create astonishing and lyrical images, as she compares and contrasts the sexual intricacies of plants and insects with her own elaborate sexuality.

She returned to higher education to study evolutionary biology, noting “The leap makes sense when you are passionate about sex. All roads lead to evolutionary biology, speciation and genetics.” It wasn’t long before she became transfixed with arachnid genitalia, peering down a microscope for hours on end in order to capture the perfect images of a spider’s erect penis, one of the photos featured in her new book Sexual Selection, published in May 2012 by cult Berlin arthouse Bongoût.

Each image is a work of art. Lush and eerily intimate photographs capture the fleeting moments of arousal and grant us a rare insight into our universal sexuality. The questions she asks as a scientist, she answers as an artist, with photography and writing. Why are some sexual practices and organs so detailed, complex and downright bizarre when this gets in the way of basic survival? As Natacha explains, “Sexual selection is the sensual side of evolution. It explains the ornate, the creative and the beautiful, it can explain arousal. It’s what gets us laid.”

By exposing the often over-looked sensual and sexual behaviour of other species as well as our own, Sexual Selection is guaranteed to broaden the readers’ sense of beauty and arousal.

“Her eerily intimate depictions of fucking and sucking transcend smut. Even literate smut.”
Rolling Stone

“The juxtapositions are exceptional… Of course I like the real people having sex, and to put them next to these other biological forms is really original and leads one’s imagination to places it hasn’t been…” Richard Prince &

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