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(Oct 12th 2017)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Ulf Retrospective - 2004

Ulf - Dangerous Marine (title page)
The highlight of Ulf's work in 2004 has got to be 'Dangerous Marine', a series of 56 illustrations for an S&M pick-up story by 'RimPig'. The sheer size of this project may have impacted the rest of his work in this year which is less exciting than usual. The second part of this article covers 'Dangerous Marine' in more depth.
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Ulf - Title Unknown 
Ulf produced a number of works in this fuzzy photographic style in 2004 and although I like the end result it looks like an adapted photograph and it's hard to tell how much artistic input is attributable to him alone. He certainly doesn't credit anyone else. The close-cropped, close-up format is most untypical of his previous work.
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Ulf - Shall We Begin?
This is probably one of the better known pieces from this year and harks back to earlier years in some ways with the sinuous, almost feminine pose of the broad-hipped Top who displays some rather suspect fashion sense. It makes a striking contrast with the conventional and quite striking masculinity of his captive. In popular fiction, these kinds of coquettish, 'gay' mannerisms are often associated with ruthless cruelty. As is often the case with Ulf, the title enhances the story of the picture (and it's a great shame titles so often get lost in Internet circulation). It's couched in the elegant language of genteel society, seeming to amplify the innate superiority of the Top and suggesting an element of formal ritual with preordained roles. It adds up to a rather intimidating threat and we somehow know that the captive is not an equal partner in this arrangement.

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Ulf - You're Next
Ulf's method of artistic creation is particularly amenable to devising multiple character and orgy scenes. There's a long tradition of detailed, moralistic story telling in a single, complex picture (think for example of Bosch, Hogarth).  I wouldn't suggest Ulf's work equals these masters but there's a similar melange of chaos, debauchery and punishment at the centre of this picture (with a hint of greater sadism in the waiting cross).

Notice how no-one here is facing the viewer, we are on the outside looking in. At first sight it seems that the orgy is also being witnessed from the outside by two lovers, one whispering in the ear of the other as though urging him to join in, a very classical temptation scene in other words. However, the title of the picture disabuses us of this misconception, this young man has already sold his soul and will do as he is told from now on. Whether you think there's a 'moral' here is up to you, but it makes you wonder if those old masters were warning against immorality - or celebrating it!
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Ulf - Title Unknown 
The bowie knife seen lurking in Ulf's 2001 work returns in this predicament scene with an edge (!)  It's an erotic adaptation of the ancient tale of the 'Sword of Damocles', recounted by Cicero. That story was about the constant fear of attack which goes with power but Ulf's is a parable of obedience and endurance in the face of pain and danger. The sub's powerful arousal in response to his predicament is likely to earn him more of the same. Ultimately though the threat posed by the knife is not entirely convincing, despite the glint on the blade suggesting it's extreme sharpness (and who'd want to damage this hunk?) But it's still a memorable image.

There's another image in this year where the knife is used to coerce an unwilling sexual partner but it's too near the knuckle for this blog.
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Ulf - Screw Machine
An even more sophisticated predicament, albeit one that has become quite familiar in the years since this was drawn, via the videos of ButtMachineBoys. Ulf's version comes with the bonus of an operator and bondage for added compulsion. The mechanics of the machine are not entirely convincing but the pose of the tied up 'pokee' is nicely erotic, although it's a disappointment for me that the pressure on his scrotum is entirely self-induced and voluntary.

The overseer leaves him too it, standing to one side and passing up the opportunity for a bit of mischief. In fact he appears to be subconsciously fingering his missing wrist watch, as though bored or late for an appointment. Perhaps he's figuring how long it will take him to go and get the electrical leads he forgot to bring with him for the controller on the side table. Joking aside, there's a sense of incompleteness in the concept here.

Ulf's original title might shed some light on this, I rather doubt mine is correct. It looks too as though someone has adjusted the colouring of this image away from Ulf's customary darkened, orange-y hues. That may have clarified the detail but has also deadened the atmosphere. 
Compare with the picture below.
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Ulf - All Mine
 Ulf uses his lighting skills to the full in this romantic, kidnap fantasy, bathing the scene in warm light and conjuring up a sunny, idyllic, tropical paradise outside the window. It's nice to see a hairy torso celebrated for a change and the theme of an older man taken captive would gratify the fantasies of many a yearning boy - and a few older ones too, no doubt. It's not without it's poignant side, reflected in the shabby, neglected location necessarily chosen for the victory ceremony.

I like Ulf's parody of the captive as saintly martyr. It's not clear whether he is horrified by the assault upon his person or by his own reaction too it. The light of heaven is being unhelpful today, falling on both victim and perpetrator and cheerfully illuminating their sinful act.

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(To read these articles from the beginning start with Ulf Retrospective part 1

Ulf has a blog The Ulfian which is an interesting mix of his art, political comment and selected porn.

There's also an Ulfian fan club on Google Groups which you have to join (but it's free). 
The older Fan Club on Yahoo! Groups seems to be inactive now.

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