The Spanking by Angela Strassheim

Minnesota-born photographer, Angela Strassheim, was raised by strict religious parents who convinced her she was going to hell when she died. Her conservative Christian childhood is a key to understanding her photography.


Strassheim’s second series of 20 photos was exhibited at the Marvelli Gallery in New York in 2006. In one print of 30 x 40 inches a girl kneels over the knee of a grey-haired man. Her jeans and white panties have been lowered to half-mast and her bare buttocks ripple from the impact of the chastisement she is receiving.

According to the the Artnet website:

Her photos of family life are not inspired just by her own childhood memories, but by seeing her siblings repeating the same strict behavior with their children. Many of her photographs feature her actual family members.

Strassheim captures the most intimate and uncomfortable moments of family life with an unflinching eye, whether it’s a family saying grace over sausage and eggs, or a father spanking his adolescent daughter.

Along the left edge of the picture there is an out-of-focus doorknob, giving the sense that we are peering voyeuristically into someone’s private space. Within, two figures are caught reenacting Max Ernst’s famously transgressive The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses, only instead of Mary disciplining the infant Jesus, we have a lean, gray-haired father-figure perched on the side of a bed, teenage girl bent over his knee. Her underwear is pulled down, and you can see the flesh rippling where his hand impacts her bare bottom. She appears rather too old for such treatment, while he, if you look close, lacks any sort of wedding band on his fingers.

7 thoughts on “The Spanking by Angela Strassheim”

  1. This is fascinating. The photo of Angela in the pool was unsettling (It made me think, “Is it supposed to be chaste or erotic? Am I perverted for even wondering?”). Then, to reach the spanking photo (as a full bottomed girl, how did I never realize I could kneel on the floor?) and find it to cause the same unsettled feeling ten-fold–impressive! It really does feel like something I’m not supposed to be seeing, like going over to a friend’s house in junior high and seeing that through her bedroom door. It’s so sexual in its “this is not supposed to be sexual” blatancy. Wow.


  2. Dave & Patron E. Hall. : Thanks for giving me some feedback on this one. Much appreciated.

    Abby: Your ambivalent reaction to the picture is a good example of the sort of powerful but conflicting emotions that this strange kink of ours can arouse.

    I think the photographer herself would be interested (and not a little flattered) by your comments, as you have given a voice to “the person viewing through the door” who is very much the third character in this little drama.

    Thanks for sharing.

    p.s. I’m not a big fan of the kneeling position myself, but “full bottomed girls” – oh YES!!

  3. Fascinating to read the always eloquent Abby’s reaction on this pic. Nonetheless, I just don’t get that image and find it boring.

    … each his/her own 🙂 the full spectrum of this kink never fails to fascinate.

    blog on my friend,


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