The artist’s treatment of the individual does in many respects, though not definitively, reflect a culture’s attitude towards itself. There is a grey zone between kitsch and perversity, as if they gravitate to one another creating a rather violent aesthetic. Perversity being a continual depreciation and reduction of the human form towards a dismembering, a de-santification and a glorification of lower purpose. Its existence frequently invokes the Hitler term “degenerate art” scenario to justify itself as an oppositional element against kitsch, the self-congratulatory and tearful recognition of the feeling of pity, perhaps best exemplified by much of French Salon painting. But in fact, both are rather parasitic, following the path of least resistance in a race to the bottom of the human psyche, each complementing the other. One of the most well known writings on the subject is from Donald Kuspit who invokes serious reflection through a compelling understanding of the dynamic:
…Donald Kuspit: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. It is this lack of emotional resonance — of emotional seriousness, one might say, that is, respect for the reality of emotions — that is the most striking feature of the female artists who have what Jerry Saltz wittily calls a “pudenda agenda,” referring to the rash of shaved vaginas that have appeared in various galleries and museums….Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/FEATURES/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.aspa
So, much can be seen as a triumph of the Marquis De Sade, and the explosive commercial potential of destabilization and a manipulation of the individual’s process of mediation of reality through images. An aesthetic contemplation complicit with an unconscious archive of perversions and animations where the idealized is explored in an infinite array of possibilities with desire often leading to an acceptance of mutual brutalization. The attention, obsession with the body as the end and means of all existence conforms to the Baudelarian insight into the prostitute as populating the urban setting, where in art, the body is brought only to life by perverse esthetics and art itself is merely an extension of perverse formal acts, an erotic and morbid valence that opens to reveal so-called consensual exchange to be a form of utopian desublimation that can be catered, marketed and sold wholesale down the food chain to the lowest level of popular tastes. So, Kuspit in asserting a commonality; a failure of internal achievement, in which perversity becomes inherent in kitsch imagery, with each containing the seeds of erotic and morbid violence where each exploit general aspirations where desire and pecuniary considerations prevail over taste and understanding.
Kuspit:….A bald vagina is a vagina with no emotional edge, indeed, no emotional appeal, which is why prostitutes and female porno stars shave their vaginas. It is not so much to reveal all, confirming men’s worst castration fears, but rather to deny emotional entry and create a certain emotional distance, which is also why prostitutes don’t kiss their customers on the mouth. Kissing is an intimate act in what is otherwise an impersonal business. It is an emotional merger in what is otherwise a strictly physical event. Without the veil of pubic hair the vagina loses its mystery. As Otto Kernberg writes, “a naked body may be sexually stimulating, but a partially hidden body becomes much more so.” Veiled, the body becomes “sexually teasing,” which is related to “exhibitionistic teasing,” a “central aspect of erotic desire . . . frequently interwoven with the character style of women.”
A naked vagina is too matter of fact to be as sexually stimulating let alone teasing and enticing as a vagina hidden by pubic hair. It affords an emotional hold on what would otherwise be a slippery slope. Removing it makes the female body less seductive, for a stark slit is rather unappetizing — hardly conducive to foreplay — however much it invites quick and easy entry, as though telling the man to get it over with. If Carolee Schneeman’s vagina was shaved when she ecstatically pulled her declaration of female libertine independence from it in Interior Scroll, the effect would be hardly as exciting. What counted was the sense of disclosure of the forbidden from behind its veil of pubic hair. It was this that made the performance exciting, not the revelation that she has a vagina. Indeed, if she had
ersely shaved it, it would no longer signal the forbidden — there would be nothing to hide. With shaved vagina, her performance would have looked like a naive act by a girl who had just realized that masturbation was the solution to all her problems.Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/FEATURES/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.aspa
Shaving off pubic hair suggests woman’s rebellion against her seductiveness to men, for the raw display of the vagina is hardly seductive — but shaving legs seems to be a standard part of woman’s seductive style — but it also suggests that she continues to think of herself, however unconsciously, as a sex object, indeed, the ultimate sex object — the prostitute. Nonetheless, in demystifying the vagina by perversely shaving it, which in effect devalues it — it no longer looks like such a great prize to win (no longer having to go through the jungle of pubic hair the sexual adventure is more perfunctory than thrilling, more mechanical than perverse — woman also devalues male looking, for there is no longer much to look at, at least in that part of the female body.
Or rather what one looks at looks rather grim. “Be blinded by the real thing, the stark reality, the ugly actuality,” the vagina seems to be ironically saying to its admirers. But to devalue the vagina and male looking is to devalue the womb and sexual intercourse, and the motherhood that may result from it….
…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. Smith’s 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
It’s a curious paradox: In the real world we are increasingly obsessed with seamless, poreless, ever-youthful Botoxed beauty, while the art world seems to vie for who can represent the human body in its most degraded, damaged and repulsive form.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven was painting landscapes because he found in lakes and mountains “a power and a majesty and a wealth of experience at nature’s summit.” Today his “artist” great-granddaughter Kyla Harris, paralyzed in an accident from the neck down, employs herself as a photographic model for wheelchair erotica.
Another Canadian artist, Terence Koh, is enjoying enormous commercial success in New York for his controversial works featuring eclectic cultural icons like Jesus, Michelangelo’s David and Mickey Mouse in a state of sexual arousal. Sometimes he smears his work with his own blood or semen.
Then there’s the touring exhibit, Body World, visited by more than 20 million people. Body World goes beyond disgust in the degradation of the living to delight in the violation of the dead. Creator Gunther von Hagen’s Crayolabright plastinated cadavers, articulated into jocular poses, treat the human corpse as a kind of stylized meta-human: death imitating art imitating life.
Several of the cadavers used are alleged to have been executed in China. Von Hagen once did a live autopsy on London television and laughed when bodily fluids shot out of the corpse.Read More:http://www.financialpost.com/scripts/story.html?id=7bd90c52-8727-461c-87a5-e39f569c30cb&k=27214
Doctors of psychology confirm that emotional detachment and victim devaluation are the stage upon which psychopathic deviants like rapists, murderers, and those involved in genocide, enact. For three supporting articles out of the psychology and criminology fields, follow the link in the article credits above, that leads to the html version.
This being the case, it stands to reason that kitsch perversion cannot be rationalized and justified as socially healthy art. In truth, it promotes a socially dangerous mindset… Just as it is inhumane to force alcohol on someone you know has problems with it, and who feels guilt and shame over their weakness, it is inhumane to force-feed kitsch art, or even other beautiful nude art, on people who may have guilt associations with nudity. That’s not love, and it definitely will not help to liberate that person from their shackles of guilt.
As Yoko Ono has shown herself in times past to be a person of humanitarian compassion, I would call upon her, the avant- guard, and the city counsel of Liverpool to search their hearts, and refrain from public force-feedings of kitsch art. It’s not “good medicine” for humanity at large, and it won’t liberate emotionally normal people suffering from the nudity= sex=guilt connection. In reality it does more harm than good by devaluing the human body and soul.Read More:http://www.yoursdaily.com/layout/set/print/culture_media/arts/art_perversion_the_expression_of_social_sickness