Maltese Photographer Pushes Boundaries With 'Black Porn' Exhibition

Of voyeurism and drunk photoshoots

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Photographer Steven Levi Vella has hosted his latest exhibition, Black Porn, as a way to spark conversation and raise awareness about the fact that the AIDS epidemic is still a thing.

The exhibition centered around the sexuality of man, and the vulnerability that comes with it.

Steven 1

Photo: Steven Levi Vella

Breaking away from the stereotypical champagne flutes and vapid chatter of most exhibitions, Vella's photographs were on display in Shadow Club, Paceville, where guests were encouraged to drink, dance and have a good time.

Beyond the black carpet walkway, a living installation saw models with golden tears running down their faces posing, touching and teasing those who flicked through big book of polaroid shots.

Day

Photo: Karl Sciberras

Golden Tears

Photo: Karl Sciberras

"I hate the idea of people looking at my work, and not feeling something"

Divided into a day and night cycle, the first part of the exhibition saw Vella focus on the first traces of sexuality found within the Bible, and looks to Adam and Eve and their journey of discovery. These 'day shots' were structured and planned, photographed with precision under the bright light of day.

Steven 2

Photo: Steven Levi Vella

The second part of the exhibition focused on the darker side of sexuality, the 'night shots'. During this shoot, the photographer shot everything with a polaroid camera, without a set plan or structure. To further intensify the raw nature of the shoot, in some of the sessions both Vella and the models were inebriated while shooting.

The result is a snapshot of uninhibited vulnerability.

"I love crazy - and we don't have enough crazy in Malta."

Valentina

Photo: Karl Sciberras

The colour black, a theme that runs through the whole exhibition, ties the whole shoot together. "Black is the most insistent of hues... it forces one to pay attention to it."

But this exhibition doesn't just talk the talk. A portion of all sales from Black Porn will be donated to an AIDS charity foundation, to help fight the spread of this disease.

Posing

Photo: Karl Sciberras

Steven Levi Vella has also worked on several music videos for Maltese bands, including Crux's trippy dance-video 'Smiling Man' and Airport Impressions' Mariette. The exhibition was set up with the help of Gabrielle Zammit Grungo, Dyan Jacabous and Nicky Gene.

Steven 3

Photo: Karl Sciberras

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Written By

Chucky Bartolo

If there's no Mariah Carey GIF or reference to Eurovision in this article, just assume they've been edited out against my will.

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