Art and Obscenity (Art and... Series)

Art and Obscenity (Art and... Series)

Kerstin Mey

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 1845112350

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Explicit material is more widely available in the internet age than ever before, yet the concept of ""obscenity"" remains as difficult to pin down as it is to approach without bias: notions of what is ""obscene"" shift with societies' shifting mores, and our responses to explicit or disturbing material can be highly subjective. In this intelligent and sensitive book, Kerstin Mey grapples with the work of twentieth century artists practising at the edges of acceptability, from Hans Bellmer through to Nobuyoshi Araki, from Robert Mapplethorpe to Annie Sprinkle, and from Hermann Nitsch to Paul McCarthy. Mey refuses sweeping statements and ""kneejerk"" responses, arguing with dexterity that some works, regardless of their ""high art"" context, remain deeply problematic, while others are both groundbreaking and liberating.

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more bearable, at least for the unconnected, distanced viewer. The ineffable becomes more acceptable. Moreover, the integration of the individual images into a series, that is into an (aesthetic) order, as is also the case in the work of Serrano, Fox and von Hagens, provides an additional means that allows for the potential rationalisation of the representations. Impulses of excess and the abject underscore a number of the British artist John Isaacs’ works. In the grotesque series A Necessary

artist Della Grace, also now known as Del LaGrace Volcano, has for more than twenty years occupied a prominent position amongst photographers concerned with women’s same-sex relationships. Employing visual codes of pornographic representation, s/he sought to seize ‘heterosexual sites and customs’ and to challenge presumptions about same-sex desire and lesbian lifestyles.18 Recently, notions of intersexuality, i.e. being both male and female and neither male and female, have taken centre stage in

between homoerotic allusions and heterosexual titillation. The vagueness of orientation in turn eschews any hasty attempt to (re-)turn to the referential in order to assume a clearcut position and moral stance. Dumas’ paintings and drawings magnify their qualities as informed representation and signs (and all the conventions that come with it) rather then literal and immediate 18. Marlene Dumas, Dorot hy D-Lit e (1998). displays. They throw into question how painting has been taken either to

interface of representation. Technology has aimed to transcend the book page, the television screen or computer display. The desired and attempted eradication of these mediation interfaces between the actual event or real object and the viewer holds the promise of achieving a more ‘direct encounter’ with reality, a greater ‘transparent’ immediacy and authenticity. Immediacy is our name for a family of beliefs and practices that express themselves differently at various times among various groups

hypermediacy.’ Hypermedia applications such as a web page or a video game are ‘always explicit acts of remediation’ as they import earlier media into a digital space in order to critique and fashion them’. However, digital media that strive for transparency and immediacy (such as immersive virtual reality and virtual games) also remediate. Hypermedia and transparent media are opposite manifestations of the same desire: the desire to get past the limits of representation and to achieve the real …

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