Artist Focus: Benjamin Fredrickson
Goodparts Is minting erotic artwork NFTs to raise money for sex worker advocacy. The independent personal care brand collaborated with Brooklyn-based photographer Benjamin Fredrickson to create eight erotic art NFTs that are being minted and sold on nftreats.art to raise money for the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project. We had the pleasure of meeting Benjamin and asking him some intimate questions about his life and work.
Tell us about yourself, who is Benjamin Fredrickson?
I was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. My passion for art and photography began in high school. Being raised in the Midwest had a profound impact on my development as an artist. My mother exposed me to art as a child and encouraged my creative growth, always. I received my BFA in photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I’m HIV positive and in my younger years working as a sex worker which informed my earlier work created in Minneapolis. I moved to NYC in 2010 where I currently reside. I’ve had my work shown in galleries across the country and internationally. My work has been reviewed widely including The New Yorker, i-D and Dazed. Last year I photographed Reno Gold for Interview magazine, we did a wedgie shoot. It was an absolute dream come true working for a magazine that inspired me as a teenager growing up in the Midwest. It was a full-circle moment.
How did your wedgie project come about? What or who inspired you?
Near the end of 2019, I had completed a project that was created using a large-format 8×10 view camera and photographic paper as the negative. It was a labour-intensive project that taught me a lot about slowing down, it also got me back into the darkroom which was nice at the time. The work was shown in a gallery and whenever that happens I get a feeling that I need to move on to something new. I wanted to explore figurative work that explored creating shapes or sculptures with fabric. In my basement studio at the time, I had a model wearing a leotard, in the process of putting it on he gave himself a wedgie, and the rest is history. My love for and obsession with Wedgies began at that moment. The wedgie community that I am a part of has continually inspired me to keep creating and evolving the project in new ways. I’m inspired by the collaborative nature of the project and getting to meet and work with so many amazing people.
How do you find your models for the wedgies?
Currently, I’ve been really lucky to have people find me and reach out to me. I’ve gotten so many requests with my current wedgie project that I don’t have the time or resources to photograph everyone. I’m very grateful for all the love, support and interest from around the globe. It makes me so happy!
Was there a shoot within this project that was especially memorable for you? If so what was it and why?
Each subject and scenario bring something new and exciting to the creation of the project as a whole. There isn’t one defining moment aside from the first one that created the desire in me to explore the subject more, from that moment on it’s been like chasing a high- the anticipation for the next wedgie shoot. This project began shortly before the pandemic began, it was revolved around in-person shoots. Once we were in the midst of the pandemic the project evolved into remote shoots- I was able to connect with people globally. My first remote wedgie photoshoot took place via Zoom in Mexico City. That was incredible it eventually led to many other shoots and a commissioned remote shoot for Interview magazine with adult performer Reno Gold. Last summer I created a pop up public exhibition of the wedgies- 50 different large scale photographs wheat-pasted across Manhattan and Brooklyn in various locations. I was able to wheat paste everything with the help of my friends Lancelot, Thomas and Warren. The Wedgie project has evolved in so many ways and has allowed me to evolve as an artist and the way I create and think like an artist. The vast amount of experiences in creating the wedgies series has been memorable. I guess that’s a long-winded answer to say there isn’t just one shoot that has been memorable, but all of them have brought something new to the table for me.
Do you consider yourself a wedgie fetishist or are you exploring this topic from a purely artistic point of view?
Absolutely! I’m so happy that I discovered this fetish within myself and the supportive wedgie fetish community has been really incredible. For me, my approach to the wedgie fetish is from an erotic point of view. The fetish itself is so layered and means so many different things to different people. Wedgies represent Dom/Sub dynamics, humiliation, humour, sexual gratification and more. Wedgies embrace every gender and sexual orientation. There’s a place for everyone within the community. I do approach this topic with care and respect from an artistic point of view, the same way I would with any other subject that I’ve approached in the past.
For me, my approach to the wedgie fetish is from an erotic point of view.
We generally don’t see the subject’s face, why is that?
Obscuring the identity of the subjects in the work is intentional. For me, it’s easier to step into the fantasy without an identity attached to the subject. The project is centred on the wedgie and the figure that is used as the vehicle for the wedgie is solely an object.
We always remembered wedgies from cartoons and comedy movies. What are your favourite pop culture references for wedgie culture if you have any?
Hands down the thong wedgie snap scene between Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy in Scary Movie 3. So hilarious!
We researched some pretty cool and interesting online communities for wedgie fetishists. There’s high demand for wedgie footage, often custom made! Do you do any custom work?
I love to know that people are able to monetize their fetishes. I’m coming from a lifelong career of living as a starving artist with a day job and still have no clue how to make money with my artwork. At this time I’m making what I like for myself and sharing that with others for free. Maybe it’s time for a paywall. Lol. Let it be known now that I am open to making custom wedgie content for other people. Please reach out to me for rates!
Would you consider your art political?
As a queer HIV positive former sex worker armed with a camera, everything I create is political, from portraits of curators to wedgies, and everything in between. I’m holding space here.
as a queer HIV positive former sex worker armed with a camera, everything I create is political
It’s hard for erotic artists to rack up many followers as they’re so quickly caught and reported. If you could have a discussion with the people coming up with censoring algorithms, what would you like them to know?
The algorithm is whack. A component of my wedgies project was to find a way around the algorithm to make erotic queer art that deified the censorship of the algorithm. The wedgie is fabric pulled between the butt cheeks, spreading them apart. No private parts are exposed, the butthole is covered. Also the abstraction of the fabric being pulled in every which way I like to think throws off the algorithm in a Martha Graham sort of way. My wedgies were flying under the radar until recently and I’ve been getting flagged more frequently today. IG censors will take down the photo in question, sending me a warning, I contest it, they put it back up. Sometimes they take it down, put it up, and then take it down again. It’s very confusing. I’ve been starting to delete work from my platform and have been thinking of taking down everything, putting up only highly censored work and then directing people to my personal website where I can share the uncensored work more freely without worrying about having my IG account deleted. It’s taken a long time to build up the following. I’m grateful for all the support from followers. At the same time, I’ve seen countless queer artists build a following only to have it taken away. It’s pathetic. I’m grateful for NFTreats and this platform that allows me to share my art, uncensored.
I’m grateful for NFTreats and this platform that allows me to share my art, uncensored.
In what ways do you think NFTs can benefit your work and the work of other artists working with sex and sexuality-related topics?
NFTs allow artists to share their work in exciting new ways free of censorship. It allows an artist to be in control of their work and profits. Traditionally a gallery would take half of the profit. Not with NFTS, that’s an exciting development. It allows access to the artists work as well, people that may not be seen as traditional collectors can now collect art in new and exciting ways. It benefits everyone.
Do you have any advice for LGBTQ artists just coming up now?
Your voice is unique and just be you. Be honest with yourself, be vulnerable and explore. When you’re authentic the rest falls into place.
What messages do you hope your fans and collectors receive from your art?
I hope that my passion for wedgies and photography come through my work. It’s a great compliment when my work arouses people while making them laugh at the same time. I’m expressing myself the best way I know how and maybe that inspires others to do the same.
It’s a great compliment when my work arouses people while making them laugh at the same time.