Vanity Fair IX: Beth Kirby + Bradley Rubenstein

Clothing Optional #2 (2018)

Beth Kirby is an artist based in Bristol, UK. Her work discusses the human form, female sexuality, and censorship. Via the mediums of drawing, collage, and painting, her work frequently explores the notion of censorship of women and the ownership of their sexuality in the age of social media and fourth-wave feminism.

The visual language of porn censorship, pattern, found collage, and other varied modes of disguise and omission are utilized to ask questions of the viewer: What do visual and personal censorship mean? How powerful is suggestion? How can women retain their autonomy, especially when it comes to the issue of sexuality?

Humor is just as important to and prevalent in her work as the vastly complex issues she raises, intended to make the discussion more approachable to all.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? To be carefree and to possess unwavering belief in myself.

What is your greatest fear? Rape.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? I have no idea! I've never been one for role models and idols.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The absolute inability to go easy on myself.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Actually there's a few, but I suppose being unaware of others.

What is your greatest extravagance? I have grown to really dislike displays of excess in terms of possessions, but good food and drink is the greatest burden on my bank balance.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? I can't bear the idea that being "prim" is somehow a virtue. I want to hear people swear, get angry, enjoy the base things that have somehow become "improper."

On what occasion do you lie? On many! Lying (or at least withholding the full truth) is the lube of adult life.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? I wouldn't say anything strongly, I more dislike that I cannot just accept it sometimes.

What is your greatest regret? I don't think I have any true regrets, just changes. 

What or who is the greatest love of your life? The greatest love story of my life is my relationship with making art -- we've laughed, we've cried, we've broken up, we've kissed in the rain. But obviously I have to mention my boyfriend too, right?!

Which talent would you most like to have? I'd just really fucking love to be able to do a backflip.

What is your current state of mind? I've felt quite stuck for a while. I long for change, and they are slow and arduous, and I'm impatient. I feel I'm behind the stall gate of the rest of my life, chomping at the bit.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Falling back in love with making art.

What is your most treasured possession? Probably a chain necklace that was my grandmother's.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I have seasonal depression, so: October.

Where would you like to live? I don't really have an answer. I don’t really mind so much as long as I'm with people I love.

What is your favorite occupation? I haven't found it yet...

What is your most marked characteristic? I am almost over-aware of people, their temperaments, moods, and personalities (including my own), and this always gets commented on.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Thoughtfulness and the things that this creates, and humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? As above.

What do you most value in your friends? Their sense of humor and how accepting we are of each other’s increasingly different lives.

What is it that you most dislike? Not coming through on plans.

How would you like to die? Happy and tired enough to let it go.

What is your motto? If you don’t ask, you don't get.

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