Darling Kink peels back the layers
I found Darling Kink's Instagram account sometime last year. I can't quite remember how I'd mapped out a path to her profile or which of her posts I came across first, but what I do recall was the thoughts that sprinted through my headspace as I scrolled through her body of work for the first time. There were images of women masturbating and depictions of love and raw eroticism like I'd never seen them. A toe-curling, spine-tingling breath of fresh air.
Countless double-taps later, I remember looking over my shoulder to make sure nobody was peering at what I was doing, what content I was drinking in and enjoying. In hindsight, it was kind of ridiculous, but in that moment I found myself painfully conscious. The way we're raised to skirt around the topic of sex, trained to sweep it under the carpet and discuss only behind closed doors has turned the topic into a taboo.
This is where Darling Kink's fearless body of work sinks its teeth. She taps into the fantasies that live in our heads turns them into a visual language. One piece of work at a time, she upends the conventions that hold our views on eroticism in a vicegrip, dissecting the human experiences of lust and longing and opening up a much-needed discussion on sex and all its dirty, bewitching glory.
What’s been keeping you up at night?
The state of the nation, the systemic oppression of the working class by those in power, the socio-political landscape of the Philippines that never seems to change, etc.
Let’s talk past and inspirations. From where do you pick up the influences we see in your art?
Experiences, fantasies, desires and of course, various artists of different media. I'd like to think that I'm distilling a lot of my idols' works into something of my own substance and style.
On to process: how do you usually go about your illustrations?
My process is fairly simple. I already have an image that I want to put on paper and I work pretty fast. That's maybe why my works appear minimalist.
What do you aim to achieve with your art?
I aim to at least open the conversation about sex and the issues that come along with it. I want my work to be a channel in which people critically analyze and contextualize issues that govern sex, especially in the Philippines. My work functions as a way for me to process my own fantasies, desires and experiences; it's a way to validate myself and the very human experiences of desire, love, loss, longing and sometimes, desperation.
What is the biggest challenge you experience in creating your work?
Putting it out is a challenge, especially locally. I want to think that people are ready for the topics I discuss with my work but of course we all know how the Philippines treat sex and reproductive health.
You actively post your work on Instagram. How do you think Instagram has affected the public’s perspective on art? Has being on the platform affected your work in any way?
It has definitely been easier for me to reach the right niche because of Instagram. I don't know how exactly IG has been able to affect the public's perspective of art but it has made art accessible to people. I like that IG has made art no longer confined to galleries.
As Darling Kink, you push boundaries and challenge how most people in a Christian country are typically raised to perceive sex. However, do you think there is any kink or scenario you consider too extreme, or can’t picture yourself illustrating?
There are definitely a multitude of kinks and scenarios I will never illustrate. My art discusses a very specific dynamic and that is the heterosexual experiences of a middle class Filipina. I treat my being able to put out work like this as a privilege, the reason being that the topics I discuss are from a middle class POV. Sex positivity without critical analysis is a dangerous thing and I advocate contextualizing properly the mechanisms that allow one to put out work like this, especially in a third world country.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that Darling Kink is less of a persona and rather an extension of yourself. Let’s talk about this: are there truths you can confront or thoughts you can express only as Darling Kink?
Of course, my art is a very personal process. Both internal and external oppressions I experience daily are better processed through this extension of self.
From a personal point of view, how do you think the Philippines perceives the topic of sexuality? How do you want to change this?
We as a country perceive sex and reproductive health like any other religious country perceives it. Our religious authorities demonize it, our government does not care for proper sex education, let alone passing proper laws to govern our reproductive health. These authorities criticise and victimise the very women who bear the children, celebrate the machismo that dominates our socio-political landscape. I can say that my art can help in issues like this but activism and actual work are needed to influence even a tiny bit of change.
Images via Darling Kink
Header art Alexandra Lara