Steven Klein – Institutional White

By on July 13, 2012

Over Fetlife way I’ve become the second kinkster to be “into everything to do with” Steven Klein. He so deserves the accolade of ‘official fetish’ for this collection of grotesquely fascinating, sometimes troubling images – Institutional White – recently showcasing in Interview magazine.


By now most of us dedicated rubberists have seen his “Good Kate / Bad Kate” photos adorning the pages of W Magazine. Or, let’s face it, the one we REALLY drooled over was the definitely BAD Kate Moss as she sat, thigh cocked to one side, encased in a rubber nun’s habit and dress by Atsuko Kudo, flashing black rubber knickers and stockings courtesy of House of Harlot. It’s kinda nice to see provocation, rubber and softcore fetishism brought into the mainstream through Klein’s work with A list deities such as Moss, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, but… the images of Institutional White reveal the deliciously disturbed individual I suspect Klein must be. They certainly appeal to my deeply perverted persona.

The setting is a Faustian nightmare of a crumbling mental institution; the photographs tell the narrative tale of an emotionally detached clinician and her dominance and discipline over a psychologically broken asylum inmate. There are glimmers of fierce passion from the clinician towards the patient she controls, but glacial aloofness is the principal order of the day for this medical fembot; empathy, pity or conscience do not register.

The attention to detail is paramount. The clinician’s boots and her starched white uniform juxtapose with the surrounding dereliction and filth of the asylum, her waxy, latex-like skin giving her an android physicality. As a voyeur, I find the detail of her circular key ring almost hypnotic, symbolising a supreme control and dominance that cannot be reasoned with. The wretched inmate is objectified and dehumanised through her contorted, sometimes vulgar poses, her torture played out in a series of increasingly tough manhandling and rope bondage ties. Through the facial expressions of his models, Klein’s art implies desperation, submission, expectation, cruelty, boredom, even religious beatification. The orgasmic concluding image to the narrative set depicts the clinician now overtly sexual, her dress thrown open as she continues to exert force over her naked patient who is strictly bound in an impossibly uncomfortable, tortuous position.

For me, viewing the mesmerising collection of Steven Klein’s photographs that is Institutional White could well be described as not only a fetish experience but a religious one too.

By Ms SpikeyO

Steven Klein – photography
Claire Adams – rigging
Ludivine Poiblanc – stylist

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