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Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
Crouching in a dark bunker is ‘Jim’, clad in leather boots, trousers and mask – all typical of the gay S&M scene. The triangular shape formed by his body is bathed in light from above, as his gloved hands hold on to the rungs of a ladder which forms a grid of horizontals and verticals in the left half of the image. The man may look like the Beast in the Pit, but he seems attracted to the light above. Mapplethorpe, who was brought up a Catholic, was constantly drawn to the ambiguous relationships between light and dark, good and bad, heaven and hell. The figure and location appear again in ‘Jim and Tom, Sausalito (Piss Drinking)’. The figure’s gaze out of the frame suggests that perhaps he is not alone – a prelude to the scene in the other photograph.