absurdities: the masculine warrior figure

Vanity is usually pretty revolting. An auto-glorification. narcissism. But as a minor saving grace, it can aspire to a certain honesty. But, for some reason, the relationship between vanity and worshiping money remains an enduring legacy, as if the power of money as poop to breed and fertilize more money seems to inevitably collapse the distinction between the spiritual value and commercial value of art, which seems at the heart of fascist psychology when one succeeds in prying into its hard casing where man is center of the universe in all his abject extremes. Either as machine robotic and inanimate object or as the junk of life, formless pieces of the abject and unmonumental: pieces of shit, fecal mounds that aspire to material transformation and a twisted ideology of alchemical purity that is rooted in a profound sense of tragic inferiority. Reaching into these psychological structures one finds the artificial extremes of gender identity and the always pervasive threat to the masculine body.

…Beneath the surface of this image of hard strength and perfection in Fascist culture, however, was a far more sinister rhetoric of gender. As Klaus Theweleit has documented, in the writings of the volunteer armies of the German Freikorps during WWI masculinity is formulated as a rigid, tightly bound container in opposition to formless matter. As Theweleit summarizes: “The most urgent task of the man of steel is to pursue, to dam in, and to subdue any force that threatens to transform him back into the horribly disorganized jumble of flesh, hair, skin, bones, intestines and feelings that calls itself human.” As Theweleit recounts, that formless realm of the physical was continually associated in the minds of the Freikorps with the feminine and with a deeply threatening ego dissolution….

Umberto Boccione, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913.---This vigorously striding figure, with its streamlined plates of metal seeming to literally carve swathes through space, projects the desired metallisation of the body dreamed of in the Futurist and proto-fascist rhetoric of body as machine.--- Read More:http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/resources.ashx/events.transcripts/10/PDF/733969CAE80C3021DCF50352A9A08B41/white.pdf image: Wiki

…In writings by Marinetti such as Mafarka Le Futuriste of 1910, woman is represented as a terrifying, formless force associated with death and non-being. A major event in the novel is the main character’s giving birth to a son without recourse to a woman’s reproductive system, an event which Marinetti celebrates as follows: “What joy to have brought you into the world so beautiful and free of all the stains that come from the evil vulva and predispose one to decrepitude and death…” The horror of women in this novel reaches its climax in a scene where one of the woman protagonists meets her end as a morass of “scarlet mud” which Marinetti describes as “an amalgam of hair, vertebrae and bones which seemed to have been gnawed on by a tiger on heat.”… Read More:http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/resources.ashx/events.transcripts/10/PDF/733969CAE80C3021DCF50352A9A08B41/white.pdf …

---when we examine the 1949 work in relation to the Boccioni it is evident that Fontana sought to unsheathe the armour-plated hardness of the belligerent futurist figure and replace it with a warrior conceived as the sticky jelly within the metallised man. After the historical catastrophe of WWII Fontana was in an ideal position to reflect upon the pointlessness of war and the absurdity of the masculine warrior figure. In letters to his family at the beginning of the war, he professed his admiration for the Germans and looked forward to the day when Italy would invade Greece, Yugoslavia and Africa. However, in an interview only 4 years later in 1943, he related that as a soldier during WWI he “had lived all the horror of the battlefield,” leaving him with the “bitter taste of tragedy and the pressing desire to return home, tormented and deceived.” The warrior sculptures he produced in the wake of a second world conflict revisit that earlier moment of trauma, responding to the ‘solid plasticity’ of fascist man by reviving the decrepit figure which Mussolini’s regime had sought to repair.---Read More:http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/resources.ashx/events.transcripts/10/PDF/733969CAE80C3021DCF50352A9A08B41/white.pdf image:http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult--paresce-ren-renato-herbert-188-finestra-2078899.htm

Fascism, the path of least resistance, the love of ritual, indignity, domination and the summa cum laude esteem of the pathological, just can’t seem to resist the association between gender identity and physical qualities. The Greek ideals of masculine perfection that can later be projected onto women, self-hated, used and discarded as rotted low-hanging fruit for man as Bacchus unbound. Behind this is a dread of the disorganized organic being, and a belligerence towards women seen as physical space, a playground to work out the quirks and kinkies of male identity. The masculine warrior figure is an absurdity predisposed to a form of nihilistic alienation brooding on a throne which is merely a toilet; but this kind of empty materiality is so linked with the monetary system that it self-perpetuates…

…In contrast to these resolutely bounded, rigid figures, Fontana’s mangled and shiny warriors embody the abject qualities associated with femaleness that are encountered in proto-fascist texts. Their highly irregular surfaces repudiate the hardened surfaces and solid volumes of Novecento sculpture, opening the figure with their deep furrows and loose crests of clay. Furthermore, their apparently liquid melting surfaces aggressively deny that metallic hardness or rigid outline typical of the Fascist definition of maleness. Hal Foster has argued that the machine-like bodies in the Dada/Surrealist works of Max Ernst and Hans Bellmer were “ambiguous explorations of the (proto) fascist obsession with the body as armour… as a prosthesis that served to shore up a disrupted body image or to support a ruined ego construction.”…

Hans Bellmer. ---...and then to the dolls that Hans Bellmer made in the 1930s and the somewhat different looking but equally perverse dolls that appear in Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, 1979 -- her later grotesquely dismembered dolls are explicitly Bellmeresque, especially when they are composites of fragments that don't add up to a complete body -- and throwing in Egon Schiele's nudes, Balthus's adolescent girls, Piero Manzoni's canned shit, and Gilbert and George's shit cookies (many other works can be mentioned), one realizes that many of the masterpieces of modern art depend on perversion to make their dramatic point. --- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.asp

…To take Foster’s suggestive metaphor of the armoured body, Fontana’s warriors have been prised out of their hard shell casing, to expose the ‘disorganised jumble of flesh’ associated by Theweleit’s Freikorps soldiers with the formless realm of the feminine. In this sense, rather than unpacking the diametrically opposed definitions of maleness and femaleness that circulated in official and avant-garde texts in the first half of the twentieth century, Fontana performed a startling reversal of those texts’ associations between physical qualities and gender identity. Read More:http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/resources.ashx/events.transcripts/10/PDF/733969CAE80C3021DCF50352A9A08B41/white.pdfa

---Warren has been making her fecal mounds since 2002, but that’s not before Ken Price, whose painted clay reached an apex of abject beauty in the 1990s. Shit is always trying to climb higher, and although it dreams of material transformation, or transubstantiation, that takes a bit of special magic. Perhaps the initiator of this movement was the Italian artist Lucio Fontana, whose quasi-religious/gut-wrenchingly formalist “Deposition,” from 1953, could have birthed Warren’s generation of anal babies.--- Read More:http://art



“The Beautiful Bowel Movement” by John Updike
Though most of them aren’t much to write about—
mere squibs and nubs, like half-smoked pale cigars,
the tint and stink recalling Tuesday’s meal,
the texture loose and soon dissolved—this one,
struck off in solitude one afternoon
(that prairie stretch before the late light fails)
with no distinct sensation, sweet or pained,
of special inspiration or release,
was yet a masterpiece: a flawless coil,
unbroken, in the bowl, as if a potter
who worked in this most frail, least grateful clay
had set himself to shape a topaz vase.
O spiral perfection, not seashell nor
stardust, how can I keep you? With this poem.

Boccioni. Dynamism of a Footballer. 1913.---Kazis:Benjamin saw that art was not innocent, that every artist living in those years had to choose between the fascist aestheticization of politics and the communist politicization of art. The Italian Futurists were able to avoid political realities by understanding war as an aesthetic phenomenon, as a new architecture, as a symphony—as anything but the horror and the political event it is. In reaction to the growing support of fascism by artists like the Futurists, Benjamin developed his own contribution to the theory of art. In the preface to his 1936 assay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,.” Benjamin writes that the concepts he introduces in that essay “differ from the more familiar terms in that they are completely useless for the purposes of Fascism. They are, on the other hand, useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art.” Read More:http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC15folder/WalterBenjamin.html

…This is why so much modern art is kitsch — innovative, avant-garde kitsch, no doubt, but kitsch nonetheless. All regressively desublimated art tends toward kitsch, especially anally oriented art, excrement being the ultimate kitsch. Kitsch is the most perverse, depraved, evil kind of art, as Broch suggests. Its perversity involves a kind of emotional decadence — entropic regression, one might say. It turns the spectator into a voyeur — Manet’s Olympia certainly does this — which is to devalue looking. It is this devaluation which makes all kitsch art evil.

In voyeurism looking is unreflective, shallow, passive — mindless observation of a hypnotic object — which means that it has no cognitive value, that is, it no longer triggers a cognitive, evaluative process. Voyeurism is not analytic contemplation but blind fascination — infatuation with an ingratiating fantasy. This is inseparable from the voyeur’s subtle devaluation of the body (its parts and functions), which he turns into a seductive sex object, so that it is no longer the site of a person. Every work of kitsch art — whether kitsch in avant-garde disguise or populist kitsch — devalues and degrades its subject matter and its spectator by perversely selling short their potential.

The representation of love — as distinct from sexuality — is rare in modern art, as I want to emphasize, and for good reason. “Love perceives the value potentialities in the loved person,” as Victor Frankl writes, and perversion hates and devalues its object — to hate is to devalue and deny human potentiality, thus reducing the object to a hollow actuality. The pervert destructively fragments and dehumanizes the object, as Stoller writes, which is to reduce it to kitsch — an object that is all matter with no trace of mind to give it depth, more particularly, a body without emotional resonance. A good Cartesian, the pervert separates body and soul, and doesn’t look back…. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.asp

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