Hana Rabbit for '(not) Naked with Masks' by Ben Hopper
I took this photograph at the carpark of Hana's central London apartment. I assume it was meant for offices. It was a Thursday; late enough in the evening for the carpark to be empty of cars and quiet of people, but early enough to catch the last rays of the sun.
For nearly 2 years since my move to London, and prior to creating 'Naked with Masks', I would regularly photograph for London’s alternative & fetish clubs. I consider this period of my life as an introduction to anything I can today refer to as 'Ben Hopper’. It played a significant role in expanding my perception of human play and sexuality. It connected me to an extraordinary collection of human beings who took part in my later art projects – many of them inspired in one way or another by those first experiences.
2 of those humans were the gay couple, musicians and curators, Oliver Frost & Marc Massive (of 'Massive Ego' band). We met a few times and we became friendly. One night, after I took their photo at the goth Club AntiChrist, they told me about their coming event ACT ART, a London group exhibition with strong sexual queer & gay-oriented works. They asked if I had anything to submit so I could take part. They said the theme is Censorship.
I showed them one image I made with a tattooed girl. Her back to the camera, wearing a mask turned around, facing the camera (titled 'Cat Chappell' on 'Naked with Masks'). I told them I could create 9 more similar ones, photographing different models naked, wearing masks. They liked the idea, and during a period of a month, I created the first batch of ‘Naked with Masks’.
Another human called Charles Ceveira, used to attend AntiChrist wearing an insane over-the-top Peter Rottentail rabbit mask. One night at the club, after I started photographing for the project, I approached him and asked if I could borrow it for the project. He agreed.
The following month, the final nude picture, taken a few metres away from this one, was exhibited along with 9 others at ACT ART 8. 'Naked with Masks' was the first project I ever published. It laid the cornerstone for all of my work in the following 15 years.
June 16, 2010. Victoria, London, UK.