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Publishing &Books
Kula by Vlastimil Kula
Published by Taschen Books
Shooting Sex
by Bob Carlos Clarke - Terry mentally undresses strangers on his coffee table

Kula by Vlastimil Kula
Published by Taschen Books

Taschen has blessed us again with another excellent book of raw sexual energy and introduced us to a new era in erotica, thanks to photographer Vlastimil Kula. Taschen books have repeatedly launched and promoted new artists that are not content to settle for the way we are supposed to live our lives, (and express ourselves sexually) and the name Vlastimil Kula is one we can now affectionately place next to the likes of other Taschen revolutionaries such as Richard Kern, Eric Kroll, Natacha Merritt, Chas Ray Krider, Roy Stuart and so many others.

Kula's Book , 280 glorious pages of explosive black and white sexual heat, is an ethereal exploration into absolute sexual freedom and desire. Not only is this Czech born photographer skilled at taking amazing pictures, he seems poised to wake the world up and liberate us of our inhibitions with his art. Kula's work refuses to accept that anything could be taboo or ugly; but more importantly, the presence of real life sexual activity cannot be cheapened or labeled as pornography. It is art through and through.

Kula's Book is not just a photo journal of nude females (which I would have been fine with as those familiar with my reviews well know) but rather a photographic journal of a group of beautiful people exploring their sexuality for themselves, not just for our pleasure.

The first half of the book presents us with many nighttime exterior locations, models in hose and fishnet stockings kissing, touching, playing, and having sex in the shadows against concrete and steel fences. We see penetration one minute, women kissing the next, smiles and wide eyes all around, while Kula playfully captures it all in the background. Everyone involved seems all too happy to be having sex and exposing themselves to Kula. These people do not seem like hired models, they seem like Kula's friends and lovers, and only too eager to engage him and each other while the camera snaps away. The bliss and comfort in their expressions and smiles have no pretensions, nor do they suggest the action is staged. No, this journey is about free flowing days of intimacy and enjoying the one basic thing all humans have at their access to enjoy, and that is sex, pure and simple. Flip and re-flip through the pages of frolicking in the leaves and try and tell me these people are not some of the happiest in the world. They do not take their freedom for granted and do not have time to be suppressed or restrained.

The second half of Kula's book, titled "With Satyr in Bed" and "With Satyr in Bath" is a bedroom and bath, lazy day love making display that reinforces that the main theme of this book is about freedom and happiness in sexuality. Kula seems to have spent a day (or month?) in a room with several beautiful women, having sex, jumping on the bed, exploring, and taking baths. There is a deep emotional and psychological truth in these images that suggest that we could all spend a little more time with those we love, sharing the intimacy that is a gift to us, rather than toiling away at jobs that are killing us, with people who don't care about us. Kula rejects the industrialized modern world with his beautifully stark images and says, no thanks, I'd rather make love.

This book differs from Natacha Merritt's Digital Diaries (of which I am a huge fan and waiting for another volume) in that Kula seems to be taking pictures for himself more than for an audience and a purpose. I wouldn't be surprised if he couldn't care less if we see these images, but we are so lucky he has shared them with us and that Taschen Books have once again recognized a bold visionary, whose work, no matter how shocking or explicit, has a great deal to say about the primal instincts we take for granted and try to deny ourselves out of shame or fear. Kula doesn't appear to be caged by anyone's rules of what art should be, and hopefully we can look forward to many more wonderful books from him in the future.

Taschen Books relentlessly publishes some of the most compelling adult art books and erotica, and does so with a fervent commitment to quality and groundbreaking design and shockingly unique artistic aesthetic. We owe this brave company a great deal more than we might understand, and yet all they ask of us is to buy the books, and enjoy them. In this era of conservative and puritanical witch hunting, we need to do everything we can to support the kind of art the Kula's of the world want to share with us. We can't afford not to.

Terry Osterhout
September 2004

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