Natacha Merritt (b. 1977, San Francisco) is an artist, writer and biologist. At age 20, 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.natacha-merritt.com. Her first book, Digital-Diaries (2000, Taschen), an erotic exploration at the dawn of the digital era, quickly became a critically acclaimed international best-seller, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and was featured in publications as diverse as The Observer, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone. She spoke at conferences as diverse as Ars Electronica on Next Sex: Sex in the Age of Procreative Superfluousness and the design conference AGideas. In 2000 she starred, shot and edited D-life (heralded as one of the first Internet reality miniseries) in collaboration with Heavy.com (later picked up by Warner Bros).
From 2003-2004, Merritt was invited to be one of the creators for the Cirque du Soleil show Zumanity (NYNY Hotel and Casino), an exploration of sensuality and peak human performance, for which she created large-scale multimedia projections from erotic images she had captured of the performers.
In 2008 she wrote an ‘insect circus’ inspired by her observations of the insect world and celebrating the importance of biodiversity. She licensed the rights to Cirque du Soleil and the circus became OVO, still touring.
He most recent photo book, “Sexual Selection” a comparative artistic study of sex in the human, plant and insect worlds was released in May 2012.
The work incorporates scientific insights with her artistic practice unveiling an untapped sexual beauty and eroticism hidden within all species. She took the theme of Sexual Selection further by using 3D printing technologies to create never before seen sculptures of spider erections (2013).
Her most recent projects include being creative director of a live fetish arts performance, and founder of Permission®.
Press and shows
Empowerment Through Pornography, The Sexual Self-Portraits of Jeff Koons and Natacha Merritt
Artist interview Natacha Merritt's Sexual Self-Portraits: Empowerment through Pornography
"Follow Flirtation" for Stereopsia World Immersion Forum 2017
This talk explores frontier technology as it relates to intimacy. It’s a novel perspective of the current state of VR, social media, big data and chatbots. Natacha Merritt tells her personal story, from her best seller “Digital Diaries” - the first digital photography book, to VR developer to tech venture capitalist and back. While many are focused on marginalizing erotic content, Natacha takes the opposite approach. From a Darwinian evolutionary perspective, she demonstrates that we should all be asking ourselves “How can I use this new technology for sex or intimacy?” She argues that this has the power to create an ethical checks and balances between humanity and the technology around us. By focusing on the intimate and sexual uses of tech we can find great investments, cure loneliness and save ourselves from tech dystopia.
Best quote: "The juxtaposition of the images is incredible; it makes you view the human body in a totally different light. Like, you know how when you’re having sex while you’re tripping, and you look down and see yours and your lover’s sex organs colliding and everything suddenly becomes a bit too real, and you’re like, “Wait… eww” but you’re also like, “Wow, the world is pretty amazing”? Well Sexual Selection is kind of like that." Article by Karley Sciortino
Review about live show I co-founded in LA and was the artistic director. I was 5 months pregnant at the time with second child. It was quite a spectacle in itself to watch me choreograph a sensual dance while bumping belly on piano.
Interesting interview, more complex questions.
One of my favorite old articles by David Bowman. My work was described as a display of "Sexual narcissism" and "Cindy Sherman's worst night mare". When is the last time you even heard the term "narcisist" in a derogatory sense?? Back in 2000 self portraits were rare. The word selfie was a decade away from being coined.... today narcissism seems quaint.
My very first press.
The concept of the show is to amaze people.
UK SEX SCANDAL
Hilarious! Sex scandal about a boss showing his secretary my first book "Digital-Diaries". She thought it was about computers. A key component of the trial revolved around whether the book was art or porn. Sadly, no one asked me to testify.
I wrote about this experience in detail in my second book "Sexual Selection". In Short, I showed up for what i thought was an interview and it turned out I was a model. After much heated debate (think angry impetuous feminist) I let them "doll me up" but insisted that I shoot all the pictures of myself. The cover is the only shot by the magazine photographer. Read my text about it here.
"Second Skin" one of my very rare fashion shoots.