Neü Sex 

Porn Star Sasha Grey Takes Control of the Camera

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Sasha Grey is best known for her work in porn, but Neü Sex is not a porno book. It's a photography art book: Pornography as performance art reflecting the human condition, captured through the photography of the artist Sasha Grey. However, the awkward humidity steaming from the zipper of my Carhartts suggests this isn't a typical art book.

By the numbers, Neü Sex is a photo book documenting 140 individual nipples, 21 vaginas, about a billion seductive eyelashes, eight hotel room toilets, and 16 rubber dildos (the rubber penises are all in the same photo, along with one plumbers' wrench). But beyond the obvious content covered by a porn star, Grey has a distinct style. Take the self-portraiture of Cindy Sherman, the blown-out honesty of Terry Richardson, and any self-absorbed teenage girl chronically documenting her masturbation hobby on Flickr, put it in a blender, set it to liquefy for 30 seconds, and you'll have Grey's photographic style. Honest, instantly gratifying, and fun.

Much like a newspaper advice column, Neü Sex is full of opinions, covering topics such as: sexual liberation ("I believe in guilt-free sex"), self-liberation ("You are your own dictator"), and artistic liberation ("There are a lot of creatively challenged pornographers, and their lack of passion showed me that if they didn't know what they wanted, I could never have a purpose in their films... I just use this to my advantage to completely make that scene mine, solely with my performance"). Aside from her porn industry insights, you've heard all this advice before, but her perspective is unique: Grey sees pornography as performance art, which is why photos are so dear to her. She thinks still images "reveal the closest thing to the truth." That's why a boring photo of a naked girl sitting on a toilet taking a wizz is rooted in honest human reflection and therefore rich with artistic value.

Considering 95 percent of the photos in Neü Sex are of the same girl, the layout keeps the content from caving in on itself. The design works within a grid system that's flexible, yet solid. Each turn of the page refreshes the content without making you feel like you're looking at a new book. If you have a photo book collection you'll need this trophy for the shelf.

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