EP. 013 - LESLIE

EP. 013 - LESLIE

Provocateur. Artist. Maverick.

 

LESLIE POLIAK

'GRAB THEM BY THE ...'

Age: 70

Location: Los Angeles, California

IG: @lesliepoliak

 

What does it mean when someone says they want to lick your pussy?

The crossing guard at my elementary school overheard me ask my friend this question when I was 10 years old. I was being molested by my neighbor who was 37. When my mother found out, nothing ever happened to him, but I got the feeling that my assault was being blamed on me. It was my fault. Over the years, the tension between me and my mother intensified. She didn’t know where she stopped and I began.

Because of her lack of boundaries, I was constantly in a position of having to define and establish my own identity as a form of rebellion. As a result, I became incredibly independent. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. And I wanted to get as far away from her as I possibly could. I moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco Art Institute at 20 years old. I had a suitcase, a photography portfolio, my dog, and a place to stay-- for one night. My parents gave me $40 a month for rent, food and photography expenses. A box of photo paper alone cost $35, so I did whatever I had to do to survive because they expected me to fail.

 

Photos by Leslie Poliak.

 

I see things differently than others. In my childhood home, I developed an acute hyper-awareness of my surroundings. I became perceptive as a means of survival. It’s this sensibility that eventually shone through in my photography and had galleries and museums across the country calling to place me in exhibits.

My photography was compared to Balthus and his ability to be provocative, yet subtle. I gravitated towards images that made people feel uncomfortable as a response to being told that something was wrong with me for being molested. I began expressing my visions and my own sexuality through the photography. It was a way to take back my power, and my pussy.



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