Sam Taylor-Wood b. 1967
Death Valley (2006)

Duration: 8 minutes

Death Valley is recognised as the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and one of the hottst places on earth. The rocks tell a story of endless changes in the earth’s crust - vast depositions, contortions, alternate risings and lowerings, faultings, intense heats and pressures. It is here director Sam Taylor-Wood and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey chose to frame the ‘Death Valley’. The story of a man exploring the experience of self-stimulation, pleasuring, the erotic satisfaction and possibilities with oneself.

Simultaneously the film alludes to the Christian story of ‘Onan’, the brother-in-law who spilled his seed rather than copulate with his brother’s wife, the film subconsciously questions our cultural stigmatism attached to self-stimulation, and the condition of guilt weighed against the clear erotic value, relief and need.