Marie Sauvage, French American Shibari artist based in Florence in conversation with Maria Abramenko on mindfulness, eroticism and her passion for religious spaces.
How did you first discovered Shibari and what is your personal connection to this magic practice?
When I was living in New York City, I was very curious about the underground scene of bdsm and went to a lot of kink parties. There I discovered shibari, but I was not interested in the “Western” approach that I discovered there. When I went to Japan, a friend of mine urged me to discover rope through a Japanese master, and I was immediately enthralled. The difference I found was that the Japanese approach to tying was entirely in the process, and not the end result, the completed tie. It was in this mindfulness and complete intention in every moment that creates an even deeper hypnotic, trance like state between the rope artist and their subject.
How do you choose your models? Any tips to our readers?
I look for an inherent sense of eroticism in my rope subjects. I learned over my time tying, that eroticism has no correlation to physical appearance. It’s not what you wear or how you look like. I think eroticism is the ability to surrender your mind to your body, to allow yourself pleasure without shame in a sex negative society, and to act based on instinct rather than being performative in your sexual expression.
Do you use to let people tie you? Do you enjoy this as much as tying others?
Of course I love to be tied, it’s an incredible feeling. I like it as much as tying!
I ‘d like to know more about your recent installations with ropes? We can we see more of those?
I started my shibari practice with master Hajime Kinoko, apart of this training consisted of me assisting him in creating large scale rope installations in museums and festivals around the world. The last event I assisted him was right before the pandemic ended large gatherings, at the Museum of Modern Art in Detroit. I eagerly look forward to assisting him with the pandemic is over, because it was an amazing feeling to build those installations in front of a crowd who felt as engaged as we were.
You are now living and working in Florence, am I right? What made you choose this city to translocate to from NY?
The pandemic made me reevaluate my life in New York City, and I realised I was only staying because of the financial security I had there. I wanted to live somewhere visually beautiful and inspiring with a better quality of life. I started in Paris and the emotional warmth of Florence seduced me away from France. Among my friends here, we speak of a New Renaissance post pandemic- many artists have been moving into Florence to escape the heaviness of Covid in other parts of the world, imbuing an medieval city with a new perspectives and cultural subversion. It is a small town for a New Yorker, but being surrounded by all these fantastic minds to explore and collaborate with has made it an exciting adventure for me.
What are you working on at the moment?
Living in Florence inspired me to explore the human form as the Florentine masters once had – through sculpture. Shibari is a very ephemeral art, the art is in movement and process. I’ve enjoyed immortalising this art by creating a shibari sculpture I posed for with Ksenia Durnovo. And when I get an opportunity, I love to tie public sculptures and photograph them. It’s like graffiti, without the vandalising damage. I’ve also been working on a series of images of rope in religious spaces. When I first started exploring my sexuality, I read this book, Story of the Eye, a French literature classic by George Bataille. In it, the main character confesses all her depravity to a priest in a confessional, which excites him so much he gives into his sexual desires and later, is consumed with shame. This story stuck with me for years, as I observed the way shame affects each and everyone of us in our own intimate lives, and how it prevents us from enjoying our lives without guilt.