a little piece of heaven?

Prostrate anxiety? the thingamagig complex. Objectifying the human body as part of splitting off the corporeal from the spiritual and convicting poor Eros of demon status, branding her forever with the unfavorable P.R. she has had to endure. The short answer of course is that sex sells in all versions from the rough and ready depths of the profane to sacred exaltation. As Keyne’s famously said, ” in the long run, we’re all dead,” so it may not be as significant as we think. These chasms tend to be more delineated than they actually are, in the same manner that Cynthia Epstein has demonstrated that gender differences, are largely constructions to divide not assemble.Like the narcissism of small differences.

Still, it is worthy of notice, that most of the modern high end art relies on perversion to affirm its point. Pornography as art? It does imply an acceptance of the self and a certain bravery to display one’s private parts. The naughty-bits as a ready-made that you can fall in love with, artistically viewed through a magnified sexual filter where genitilia becomes an icon of the banal. There must be a Greek god that guards a warehouse full of Duchamp urinals, stools, bicycle wheels while playing Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen- the editor’s cut with extras- in cross-dress mode.

---Without the poetic teasing texture of pubic hair, the vagina becomes just another hole to be plugged with a dildo. The dildo is a kitsch penis -- a regressively desublimated penis, as it were. I want to suggest that the t(r)ail of shit that emerges from a Kiki Smith female figure -- she's down on all fours, her body confirming its desublimation by the anal universe it has produced -- is in effect a dildo, more particularly, what has been called an anal phallus, suggesting anal eroticism, the last recourse of perversion. Smith¹s figure is a superb example of anal art pornography made for women, which is why it is one of the best works of perverse art around. --- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.asp

Maybe its all catering to the American preoccupation to be constantly pleased as a child, wafted away on the odors of innocence while banging their brogues and high heels on the service counter to express their hunger and emotional need to be satiated as a grown-up. Not without controversy:

First, perversion is the result of an essential interplay between hostility and sexual desire…. Second, people with perversions feel (are made to feel) an unending sense of being dirty, sinful, secretive, abnormal and a threat to those finer, unperverse citizens who are supposed to make up the majority of society. Third, the word itself reflects the need of individuals in society to keep from recognizing their own perverse tendencies by providing scapegoats who liberate the rest of us in that they serve as the objects of our own unacceptable and projected perverse tendencies.
Robert Stoller, Perversion: The Erotic Form of Hatred, 1975

---I first saw Koons’ erotofarce in the famous Sonnabend show two decades ago. The show came about specifically because Koons, for all his success at the time, allegedly could not get laid, due to his good personality. Many was the time I myself observed Koons in the late 1980s goofily hitting on young women at Fanelli’s during the cocktail hour with the surefire line, "Hi! I’m Jeff Koons and I am a famous artist." The girls would not only not respond, they would pretend Jeff wasn’t even there! In response, Koons did what Koons does: he appropriated another artist’s work. Specifically, Koons stole the act, pictures and style of Ilona Staller in her La Cicciolina role. At the time, Ilona was running for a seat in the Italian parliament and was prominently featured in Penthouse and other soft-core U.S. media. Her act in the U.S. market was just that, soft-core, with Ciccie posing in various states of undress next to a nude guy, semi-aroused, sans penetration. Ilona, out of respect for the Vatican or the Rome fuzz or whatever, always emphasized the non-hardcore nature of her "art." Koons ripped off her imagery down to the last nipple, married Ilona and then advanced the ball, so to speak, by going X, a la Madonna’s book Sex in overall theme. And he did it to prove to his friends that, somewhere, sometime, he could get laid.--- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/finch/jeff-koons10-18-10.asp

DK: I would say it is ultimately nihilistic. I think it is not only anti-art – it is anti-life. Let’s just think for a moment of what Koons did with Chicholina – I’m referring to his sculptures of her. She was his Italian wife, also once a member of the Italian Parliament, and some say a prostitute or call girl or model as well as a celebrity of sorts. They’re now divorced. The sculptures were on view at the Sonnabend Gallery. In one work she looks like a glamorized not to say whorish belle femme sans merci–the eternal feminine downgraded/degraded to a media slut — anti-life indeed…. but pornography does not have to do with the spectator, it has to do with Eros. Read More:http://dks.thing.net/Donald-Kuspit-Diane-Thodos.htmla

---Jonathan Jones:On the blackboard he has written "Exploitthe masses" and "Banality as saviour". The other works included Ushering in Banality, a carved wooden polychrome group of two angels and a tracksuited boy tending a pig with a green ribbon round its neck; a porcelain figure of Leonardo da Vinci's Saint John the Baptist clutching a pig; and a statue of two grinning idiots nursing a row of blue puppies. The art of Jeff Koons creates a world beyond taste. It rubs the least respectable mass-cultural artefacts into the noses of people brought up to think art is about the good, the true and the lofty. Two decades after he gave the world Banality, I meet him at London's Serpentine Gallery. It is the eve of his exhibition, Popeye Series, which stars the famous spinach-eating sailor and an inflatable lobster. The king of kitsch has never looked more kingly than he does now. Jeff Koons in 2009 is a mega-artist, a business artist, rivalled in commercial success and fame only by his friend Damien Hirst - "I've always felt very close to people like Damien, the Chapmans, Sarah Lucas." Unsurprisingly, as they are all visibly influenced by his work. He employs more than 100 people in his New York studio, and before the markets crashed was selling individual works for more than $20m. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/jun/30/jeff-koons-exhibition-serpentine


It was called Made in Heaven and, in my opinion, was his greatest work. It was, says Koons, about “removing guilt and shame. I saw the Masaccio painting in Florence” – Masaccio’s 15th century picture of Adam and Eve being cast out of paradise in the Brancacci Chapel – “and I was very moved by it; you know you see the guilt and shame that they’re feeling, Adam and Eve.” He wanted to create the answer to this painting R

“a body of work that is kind of about after the fall, but all of this guilt and shame is removed”.

To create Made in Heaven he borrowed all the trappings of Staller’s own art. “I hired her and I used her same photographer, the same place where they developed the film. I wanted her to wear the same costumes, the same backdrops, because everything was a ready-made.”…

---It's art; it's fashion. It's good; it's bad. It's sexist; it's not. It's Vanessa Beecroft's performance art. And one's mind can feel like Faye Dunaway's face in that famous slapping scene in ''Chinatown'' when confronted with it. Since 1994 Ms. Beecroft, a 29-year-old Italian artist, has become known for pieces involving up to 20 vaguely similar women wearing underwear, high heels (or sneakers), maybe pantyhose or wigs, and not much else. The work has an anthropological logic: the performers and their costumes usually come from the city in which the performance is taking place.--- Read More:http://bostonartnews.blogspot.com/2010/12/vanessa-beecroft.html

…Koons is fascinated by sex – it keeps coming into our conversation, in a conversation about beauty for instance. “If I think of the word beauty, I think of a vagina”, he replies. “I think of the vaginal – personally. That’s what comes to mind for me, or Praxiteles’ sculpture, the ass … ” The ass he’s referring to is that of the Venus of Knidos, carved by the ancient Greek sculptor, Praxiteles, and displayed in a temple that allowed pilgrims to view the goddess of love from all angles. Classical writers tell that enthusiastic beholders stained the marble statue with their ejaculations. And this is a clue as to why he’s keen on sex, as an artist. Eroticism has always been the territory par excellence where lofty ideals are betrayed by basic physical drives: where the beautiful becomes banal. This is why it made sense for Koons to explore pornography as art – because when we lust we are all Jeff Koons.Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/jun/30/jeff-koons-exhibition-serpentine

---Kuspit:Let's go back to Manet's Olympia, the painting with which it all began, and still the most subtly perverse -- which also means anti-bourgeois, for bourgeois sex is presumably normal sex, that is, never ventures beyond the missionary position -- to grasp what's at stake in perversion, and that perverse deviation from traditional art called modern art. Why was the work so offensive -- so shocking to the bourgeois, or, as I would rather say, emotionally terrorizing? Manet himself was bourgeois, and knew the bourgeois had a perverse underside -- knew that the bourgeois male could only satisfy his sexual curiosity, that is, the full range of his sexual impulses, with a prostitute. (Apparently Manet himself was a customer, and caught the syphilis from which he died from a prostitute.) Olympia is a prostitute, and Manet's paintings of her suggest the two sides of perversion -- perversion as an attitude and perversion as a practice. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.asp

Like Stoller, Jacques Lacan also differs from Freud, but the latter’s work is too complex – and opaque, if not deliberately obscure – to analyse here in any detail. Suffice to say that Lacan makes a distinction between perverse acts and perverse structures. That is to say, he maintains that perverse acts may be indulged in by non-perverse subjects, but that perverse structures are always perverse, even when they are socially condoned.

For Lacan, cross-dressing represents the epitome of the “perversion of perversions”, as the symbolic object – probably initially the subject’s mother’s panties – is taken by the child as a symbolic substitute for what he believes to be her missing penis….

…Nevertheless, Stoller’s views on perversions demonstrate a distinct break from Freud’s notions on the subject.

Freud believed that perversions arose out of a “fixation” during an early stage of emotional development – or “regression” to that earlier stage – whereas, for Stoller perversions represented emotional revenge for childhood traumas that enabled the pervert to triumph sexually in some symbolic sense over the person they perceived themselves to have been damaged by. Read More:http://www.thewolfshead.co.uk/html/perversion.html
They refute the idea that ‘biology is destiny’ and that deviant sexual practices are perverse. This approach is neatly captured in the phrase ‘sexual dissidence’ , bringing sexuality into the domain of political praxis rather than biological process. A dissident is a protester against the way things are in the name of how they might be if people fought hard enough to change them. Indeed, much of the debate is framed in terms of sexual politics, extending from the women’s movement to gay rights to the men’s movement of fellow-travellers with feminism, rounding out an anti-sexist politics of relations between and within genders. A sign of this movement is a special issue on Perversity of the journal New Formations . The domain of this periodical is conveyed by the subtitle: Culture/Theory/Politics. A generation ago it would seem bizarre to many that this aspect of sexuality should find its way onto the agenda of a journal with those preoccupations.

The key claim is that the relevant framework for considering these issues is that sexuality is inside the symbolic order, not purely an expression of instinctual needs. Biological determinants are not wholly cast aside, but the rigidity of their determining role is greatly reduced. More space is claimed for a range of sexual needs, feelings and practices – a range which is as broad as symbolism, rather than as narrow as instinctual determinism. At one level, all but the most conservative and fundamentalists moralists and religious zealots concede something to this way of thinking. It is now a commonplace that sexuality has a history, that is, it is inside the contingency of culture, not merely fixed and innate in a stereotyped way. To place it inside history is to grant a lot to the dissidents. In my own lifetime and my own sexual history there have been important changes in all sorts of areas. Things which were taboo when I was a boy – even when I was first a bridegroom in the nineteen fifties- are now commonplace, starting with public discussion of sex, including programmes on the radio and television and sex books prominently displayed in all book shops. Some friends and I sent off for a classic, A Marriage Manual, which duly arrived in a plain wrapper, only to disappear days after it was my turn to have it. I found it hidden behind the Britannica many years later – heavily underscored, presumably by my parents.

The list of formerly perverse and increasingly common practices extends from masturbation and mutual masturbation to kissing and sucking breasts to all sorts of acts and paraphernalia: oral sex, anal stimulation, anal penetration, vibrators and other sex aids, role play, dressing up, some forms of bondage, use of videos. Contrast this with Freud, for whom it was a perversion if the lips or tongue of one person came into contact with the genitals of another or if one lingered over aspects of foreplay which, as he quaintly put it, ‘should normally be traversed rapidly on the path towards the final sexual aim’ . In the writings of Alex Comfort  and others, foreplay has been extended indefinitely, and the boundary between exploration and abnormality has been blurred. Much – probably most – of what is commonplace in current manuals was taboo when I got married in 1957. Some things which have become commonplace in recent decades are still illegal in many states, provinces and countries. Read More:http://human-nature.com/human/chap4.html

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