The Mask As Sexual Liberation In The Work Of Paul Soso

The late fetish photographer’s work is celebrated in a timely new exhibition.

Masks, these days, are rather contentious things – believe me, I know. It’s hard to remember that once upon a time, we wore masks for fun and pleasure, as a way of creating a new identity or giving ourselves the freedom to engage in hedonistic activities free from the disapproving stare of others. Well, to a degree – I imagine that many of the people who see face coverings on others as some sort of personal affront to their own liberty are the same ones who would be aghast at the mere idea of sexual fetishism and kink wear.

Photographer Paul Soso died in March 2020, just days before the first UK Covid lockdown. Quite what he would have made of the spread of face masks and the way they suddenly became at the epicentre of a very weird culture war is hard to imagine, but he might have been fascinated. His work over many years had explored the idea of mask-wearing for pleasure and liberation – a fashion statement and moment of individual sexual expression that emphasised the mysterious and unknown. Now, a new exhibition at the We Are Cuts gallery and hair salon in Soho, London brings his work to the public space for the first time in a solo exhibition.

Soso’s photos of the London fetish scene are a diary of modern kink – a vital reminder of both the importance of sexual liberation in an increasingly prudish, moralising and censorial age and the validity and creativity of mask-wearing. The exhibition opens on November 18th 2021 and runs until the end of the year.

Help support The Reprobate: