"I propped myself on the kitchen counter and he grabbed and parted my thighs. The sound of keys fiddling at the front door interrupted the beginning of what could've been an unusual fuck," writes Rasha Kahil in her work XI.
XI is Kahil's self-published magazine of eleven erotic stories, relayed in reverse chronological order. The stories are written by Kahil, but are not autobiographical. Instead, they tell the story of the sex life of an anonymous girl, from her last partner back to her first. She uses pared down language to describe the sexual encounters, coupled with photographs taken from her blog, Le Gueule de Monde.
Instead of writing a confessional about her own life, Kahil draws upon her experiences to create a magazine of sexual encounters that does not romanticize or elevate sex. In an interview with Dazed Digital, Kahil explains that she want her work to have a universal quality, an anonymity that could allow each reader to insert themselves into the work:
The text, although explicit in its language, is also very matter-of-fact, and merges the emotional with the physical, which is what sex does. It's not porn and it's not romanticism, it's just sex.
In a way, it was mostly about wanting to bring sex down into the fabric of everyday, through the use of anonymity. The fact that I immersed these texts within pages of portrait photography is a way of detaching it from the author and creating multiple voices. Any of the girls in the photographs could be the author, and any of the men pictured could be the men in the texts. No one is named. Even the reader could become the author...
It is refreshing to see an artist approach sex in such a simple, honest way. Kahil's work is erotic, but clearly not pornographic. The 48-page publication is intended to bring sex down to earth, remove it from the realm of movie screens and glossy magazines. When asked whether she thinks her desire to de-sensationalize sex is only furthering the sensationalism that surrounds the act, Kahil replies:
I've always been interested in sex as subject matter, it holds so much emotion, complexity and is far-reaching. It's shared ground. I'm neither sensationalizing it, nor de-sensationalizing it. It's a tool for narrative just as anything else could be, and a lot of my work revolves around it. Celebrating sex sounds a bit corny, but I'd love to do just that! More, more, more!