By Julian Wolf
Michael Sol is a versatile artist based out of California. He is known for several kinds of work, and his reputation for forms such as bondage, photography and artistic cutting precede him in different parts of the country.
We sat down to talk about the various forms of artistic mediums that he works with and how art affects different aspects of his life.
Is there a specific aspect of art that speaks to you?
“The fact that art is organic touches a chord with me. In fact there are different chords that bring out different melodies and sometimes symphonies. People are often part of my art as participants, subjects, models, objects, and on. They happen to be organic as well and at times I chose a person as a canvas or inspiration and therefore the substance of the art I do depends a great deal on who this canvas and human is. Sometimes I will see a form and desire to use it or an idea in many forms of art, often in manners regenerative.
On a personal level my art can depend on others or not. At times there is a solitary chord and my work is introspective and searching. In some expressions it is a pianissimo in minor, and others it is a bold forte to make a statement. This art is sometimes held close, maybe even jealously. It is the “me” within and often what is hidden. Big and small it incorporates things I love, desire, and am afraid of.
I challenge things I am afraid of. This sometimes brings me to edgier more challenging expressions. Often I speak of power in art, yet what is interesting is that vulnerability is often revealed. Different mediums fit different expressions and what is more important to me is the true of what I desire to express than how. To be really open and exposed is amazing in art. It is at times liberating, and most often frightening. On the other side good result or bad, freedom is waiting; or is it? Despite my fear these are things I must know.”
Some of your work is collaborative. Do you have a favorite person to work with?
“The person I collaborate most with has been my girl katey. In fact she was the reason I began many of the paths I have received acknowledgment for today. It is a shame people do not often see and get to share her energy. In part it is the energy that brought me to this place. Often the ideas and the art behind my expressions have been as much she as me. We are all in some part the sum of the people we collaborate with or who inspire us, and we need to acknowledge that.
My storyboards and inspirations begin with people and how they are as a society. Katey and I have an interest in history, art and culture. What is behind the art matters as much as the art or more. What arises from these interests becomes passion. Sure we do not always agree, but we push and inspire each other in our collaborative and individual art. What is found therein is a primary influence in my art and life. There are a number of people I collaborate with but this shows the potential as I see it the best.”
Do you have a goal with your art?
“In creating photographs, performance art, or in any media I seek to connect and gain a response. Even with in my self this is true. Some people and most artists explore self portraits. This does little for me. My portraits of self are found in any image or expression that I connect to, if it works well or not. No picture of me shows who I am and who I aspire to be more than the images seen through a lens, on canvas, or in performance. They are little pieces of my soul in the spiritual and emotional outlets which flow sacred and profane in my being. They do not seek the right way of being, but the mystery of my self, what I see, and what I connect with.”
What is your current focus?
“Today rope bondage is my most often used focus. The passion for rope as with most of my passions extends beyond the rope itself. I love everything that surrounds and is part or it. The origins of rope bondage in Japan and in many other cultures are an inspiration. Making the rope and being inspired by the cordage is basic. Rope is used in very culture, and in each formation it is very important to the development of culture. The fun thing is that at some point all cultures tie someone up. This is inspiring and sort of cool. In Japan rope bondage is a martial art, tool of war and public administration, and oh so many things. The passion for rope bondage in Japan is profound because it is in fact a rope culture that has been developed and intertwines with so many aspects of the people and society. Other countries are interesting as well, look at bondage in Germany and France today, and never forget our legacy from John Willie and his Bizarre magazine in America. He had a cross the oceans conversation in rope with the early developers of Kinbaku at Kitan Club Magazine that has influenced many on both sides of the pond. And the merit of his own work stands alone and influential as well.
What appeals to me about creating rope bondage itself is the simplicity in beginning and the connection. The rope I use most often is of natural fiber and therefore organic. The beginning is to simply have rope until I breathe life and purpose to it. To implement my intent, bringing the form and creating the connection between self, and my partner joined in the bondage. Then I can layer and add to the art of creation and the connection in the process. The process is natural and living. It is as much about breath, tone of voice and the touch of skin. It is a process that can recall the culture surrounding and invoke those who have come before. To see the tranquility of the Japanese Garden, taste the tea and the harmony of Chado, or to recall the stories and fables of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Even to hear in your head the grunts and feel the movement of the Kinbakushi, or invoke the damsels in distress and mischief of Irving Klaw. It is organic, connective, and about being human. Yes it is about respecting the artists of before, but also to add to the art from yourself and your union. To merely mimic has no soul.
When you are done, you have created, and that art, connection and experience lasts forever. Yet when it is undone, there is simply rope. That is a beautiful thing. It is the ultimate empty vessel, and it is the empty, rather than the full vessel that has the greatest potential; rope renews over and over. How cool is that?”
You can find Michael Sol and a gallery of his work on Fetlife