Interested in exploring her own physical and mental limits, Shibarista Jess experimented with pain, endurance and physical restrictions from an early age, to discover the effect on her body but foremost to explore the effects on her mind and emotions. Rope became an important part of this journey when she met Belgian shibari-expert Marc BeShibari in 2007 and started to model for his Japanese style rope work.
“Surrendering to the force of the ropes and the will of the person handling them allowed my mind to let go and made me retreat into a serene and quiet inner space, where there were no do's and dont's, musts or must nots...”
Together BeShibari & Shibarista performed and gave workshops throughout Europe. Shibarista modelled for amateur and professional photographers and featured in Belgian blockbuster film "SM Rechter" (SM Judge) in 2009.
In 2014 she started photographing the rope sessions BeShibari does with others, to explore Japanese rope bondage from a viewer's perspective. Inspired by Nobuyoshi Araki and Sugiura Norio, she developed her own style of sober, low light imagery void of decoration, in which interactions between model and ropes are the key element.
Every session she captures is a unique and intimate experience to her, in which the person in the ropes sheds his or her daily appearance and personality.
“There is no posing, no acting, just a recording of a body being sculptured, a mind being released and deep emotions surfacing. As an artist I am grateful for people allowing me to portray them in sometimes explicit or intensely emotional situations.”
Together with BeShibari, she combines her experience in kinbaku with that in event organisation to run Shibari Lounge, where they provide an open, low-threshold platform for rope lovers to inspire and learn from each other. When starting Shibari Lounge, she also picked up the ropes and found she enjoys tying (nearly!) as much as modelling. Logically, working together with BeShibari has had a profound influence on her bondage work, but over the years she developed her own style.
“Put in a few keywords I describe my own ties as intuitive, slow, slightly sadistic, connective… I love to see my partners slowly surrender to the ropes and reach that quiet inner space I also know so well…”
Her path in kinbaku closely follows that of BeShibari, so please check his bio for all the projects they collaborated in. Some highlights she likes to mention here:
2009: Performance on First London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage (UK)
2009: Participates in Belgian blockbuster film ‘SM Rechter’ (S&M Judge). In 2010 performs at World Premiere in Kinepolis Movie Theatre, Antwerp
2009: Hosts two-day workshop with kinbakushi Arisue Go (JP) in Brussels (B)
2010: Gives first ever bondage workshop in Delhi, India
2014: Becomes photographer for BeShibari’s private sessions
2016: Co-founder of Shibari Lounge Antwerp, owner of the venue from 2018
2017: Collaboration with VJ Nanon Malika (B) for performances of DJ Charlotte De Wit. Images feature at music festivals and clubs worldwide
2018: starts teaching successful series of regular group workshops at Shibari Lounge together with BeShibari
2019: Hosts shibarite Yoi Yoshida (JP) at Shibari Lounge for weekend workshop and stage performance
2019: Performer at Onawa Asobi Festival, Tokyo, with BeShibari and Akane chan (JP)
2020: Organizes Onawa Asobi Europe with Yoi Yoshida (JP) and BeShibari
2022: Performer at “Fade Into You” Festival for De Studio, Antwerp
2023: Performer at “360°” Drawing Marathon for the Royal Academy, Antwerp
2023: Hosts Nawashi Kazami Ranki (JP) in Shibari Lounge
2023: Organizes second European edition of Onawa Asobi, with BeShibari and Yoi Yoshida (JP)
Summary of workshops & classes she attended over the years:
2010 – Kinoko Hajime (JP)
2010 – Go Arisue (JP)
2019 – Yoshida Yoi (JP)
2020 – Discover Kinbaku (D)
2021 – Sin (GB/D)
2022 – Aku Aku (F/JP)
2022 – Sin (GB/D)
2022 – RopeMarks (NL)
2023 – Nuit de Tokyo (F/JP)
2023 – Nawashi Kazami Ranki (JP)