240 pages, colour photos
Merritt's new book Sexual Selection is in many ways even more captivating. She applied her distinctive vision to a subtle and complex art, creating astonishing and surprisingly lyrical images as she compares and contrasts the sexual intricacies of plants and insects with human sexuality. Soon after the incredible success of "Digital Diaries", Merritt embraced a new obsession: science. While she pursued and completed a degree in biology, she found herself transfixed by the complex mating habits of plants and insects. By photographing the insect world during the day and continuing to focus on the art of human sexuality throughout the evenings, the concept for her new book was a natural progression for Merritt to reach. With the questions she asks as a scientist, she answers as an artist with photography and writing; why are some sexual practices and organs so detailed, complex and bizarre when this gets in the way of basic survival? As Natacha explains, "Sexual selection is the sensual side of evolution. It explains the ornate, the creative and the beautiful, it can explain arousal, and it's what gets us laid."
The concept of sexual selection was first introduced by Darwin in 1859 in his landmark book On the Origin of Species as an explanation of the characteristics of many animals that don't appear to have a direct role in survival. But Merritt takes the idea further: her bio-centric images are intertwined with contemporary research into the selection process as she flirts with thought-provoking concepts such as sexual selection via cryptic female choice, antagonistic co-evolution or sexual plasticity.
Each image is unmistakably a work of art that transcends easy categorisation. Lush and eerily intimate photographs capture the fleeting moments of arousal, granting us a rare insight into our universal sexuality, often timelessly classic and always radical and uncompromisingly contemporary. By exposing the often over-looked sensual and sexual behaviour of other species as well as our own, Sexual Selection is guaranteed to broaden the readers' sense of beauty and arousal regardless of their vantage point.
What is interesting about Natacha is her notion of her own tumescent sense of self and sexuality.
- Dazed and Confused
"The juxtapositions are exceptional[...] Of course I like the real people having sex, and to put them next to these other biological forms is really original and leads one's imagination to places it hasn't been[...]"
- Richard Prince (about "Sexual Selection", 12/2011)
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Natacha Merritt (b. 1977, San Francisco) is an artist, writer and biologist. Her intimate and explicit series of portraits and self-portraits documenting her sexual history caused a sensation when she published them on her website www.digitalgirly.com. Her first book, "Digital-Diaries" (Taschen), an erotic exploration at the dawn of the digital era, quickly became a critically acclaimed international best-seller, shifting over 300,000 copies and being featured in publications as diverse as "The Observer", "Playboy", "The Wall Street Journal" and "Rolling Stone".