Johnny Jaan’s photography has been described (following Elmer Batters) as ‘leg art’, podophilia or foot fetishism, but a more artistic term would be Aretifism. Meaning the love of the naked or stockinged foot, it is an obscure word for an obscure and often furtive obsession : women’s feet.
A fetish strictly speaking involves the substitution of a worshipped object for the love of a person. But Aretifism is about the love of the person’s feet and there is a strong link between the love of free feet and the enjoyment of freedom within relationships. In other words, this kind of fetish is amongst the most gentle of the obsessions, and the respect shown by both Batter and Jaan for their models is obvious.
The compositions of the photographs are beautiful: light and shadow dance in Jaan’s work in divine fashion, illuminating the most ordinary subject- from a calloused foot to a gorgeous model. In fact, much of the work is not fetishistic at all, but a study in human anatomy - the foot being the most complex organ after the face and showing almost as much character. But the attention to light is strong in each case and the patterns of shadow form a poetic frame to the complexity of the human foot.
Johnny Jaan is a major artist - his skill in the use of light, his loving focus on the softer side of leg art, his compositional skill make him a true heir to Elmer Batter’s pioneering work. They speak on behalf of those who need to be outed into a new social and artistic form I would like to call Aretific Aesthetics: the love of the mystery of women’s feet.