Bad boy by Megan Christiansen

“What a mysterious girl. One that entices you to tell so much about yourself without reciprocating much at all. Just enough to say you know her. Not enough to say what you know.” — The opening sentences to visual artist Megan Christiansen’s debut photo book Bad boy…

Bad boy is a personal self portrait series exploring the ambiguous dynamic between the artist and men who have walked through her first three years inhabiting New York City, each possessing a unique quality that has infatuated the artist. Anonymous, unedited text, written only by men with whom she has been romantically involved shifts the power between artist and subject. This ambiguity lends the audience authority to interpret and appreciate the nature of these relationships. She will only give you enough to say you know her. Not enough to say what you know…

— What were some of the qualities you were searching for in your subjects?

It’s weird, I didn’t actively seek people out for this project, the whole thing grew very organically and out of necessity. When I moved to NYC I didn’t have a studio space so I just started taking pictures of the people that were around. The men in the book are a mixture of friends and lovers, of varied sexual preferences and they all have an energy I can’t quite explain which compelled me to photograph them. There is a fascination there which makes me want to draw something out of them on film.

— How did you feel reading or listening to other’s people’s descriptions of you? I mean, you had asked them to do so, but how did the truth sit with you?

When I first read them I didn’t know what to think to be honest, I kind of wanted more. I think I was expecting something more dramatic or to hear these big revelations. As I sat with them however I really started to appreciate the subtlety of what a lot of the men were writing. There is this really nice variation in what they chose to write about me – whether it be sexual, humorous, a declaration of past feelings… It is really difficult to be completely honest and even if they wanted to say something groundbreaking that is a lot to ask of someone, even as an anonymous statement. I think the last quote in the book is so vulnerable, it is incredibly brave.

— How did their responses help to guide and develop your work?

I actually asked the men to write the text after I had shot them so that the pictures were untainted. The text really acted as the red thread to tie everything together when we were designing the layout. It adds to the ambiguity for the reader because they have no idea what my relationship to these men is. It is up to the reader to play detective and piece together who they think said what and imagine what our relationship might be or have been.

— How do you hope your Bad boy will help to open up a new dialogue of sexuality for females?

I hope women are inspired to be open and honest about their bodies and sexuality. I am not a model, I’m curvy, I have child bearing hips and a face which is very hard to photograph. Regardless I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of my body and I will be nude and honest because that is just me and I can’t change it. I grew up idolizing women like Marina Abramovic and Cindy Sherman who were always pushing the boundaries of what the female body looks like, how it is portrayed and what it can withstand. It’s interesting to see how we can continue these conversations with the influence of social media and the pressure women now face to portray yourself as this together, confident and curated character online.

— How do you feel your response to feminism is in representation to your generation?

I really hope my work represents so many women of my generation that are strong, smart, sexually confident and unapologetic, they don’t take shit from anyone but can also be vulnerable and empathetic. I feel like there a lot of this dreamy nostalgic work that is beautiful but doesn’t represent me. I can tell you that my generation and the next generation of females are really going to fuck up the order because we can do it all, we know what we want and we are not afraid to fall on our face in the name of progressing.

— So, how is sex for you now? Are you analysing the situation/person, or considering what they might be thinking of you? How will this feed into your upcoming work?

Sex is very cool haha. It really hasn’t effected me at all but maybe it will cross the mind of my partners. I really separate the ideas of sex and love, I always have. I think this makes me so in the moment with men and very upfront which is sometimes hard to handle. My work has always been concerned with body and sexuality so I will continue to push the ideas I explored in this project and try and get an even more honest response and dialogue going. I am actually starting pole dancing classes for my next project so stay tuned… it could turn out terribly!



Following her exhibition at Chinatown Soup,
Bad boy is available to purchase online at