By Kerstin Mey
Specific fabric is extra broadly to be had within the web age than ever ahead of, but the idea that of "obscenity" is still as tough to pin down because it is to process with no bias: notions of what's "obscene" shift with societies' transferring mores, and our responses to specific or traumatic fabric should be hugely subjective. during this clever and delicate publication, Kerstin Mey grapples with the paintings of 20th century artists training on the edges of acceptability, from Hans Bellmer via 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 a few works, despite their "high art" context, stay deeply tricky, whereas others are either groundbreaking and freeing. <u></u>
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Extra info for Art and Obscenity
His work, alongside the explorations of Urs Lüthi or Jürgen Klauke during the 1960s and 1970s, was situated within an increasing spectacularisation of society. The public display (and deliberate performance) of people’s life practices was delicately embedded in the nexus of visibility and political empowerment, the promotion of diverse cultural experience, individual ‘unmasking’ as well as, increasingly, calculating (media) exploitation. Molinier’s sexually charged stagings as manifest for instance in Autoportrait avec godemiche (‘Self-portrait with dildo’, fig.
16 The differences between the process of abjection and being abject throw up further doubt about the appropriateness, in fact the possibility of the strategic category of ‘Abject Art’. If art is taken as an act of sublimation, the term ‘Abject Art’ then places abjection and sublimation into proximity, if not equation. Yet the category in its various applications has evolved as a seemingly popular and omnipotent but equally woolly descriptor of critiquing, testing, provocation and resistance. Its use has been aimed at the rupture and/ or subversion of the existing social order, particularly during the period of the ‘Culture Wars’ in the USA of the 1980s and early 1990s.
During the 1970s, fetishism was ‘a key concept for the political aesthetics of modernistinfluenced anti-Hollywood cinema’ and for feminist theory inflected by a psychoanalytic approach. Fetishism, as Laura Mulvey points out, ‘answers a number of conceptual needs’. 17 Nancy Grossmann’s seemingly sado-masochist mask does not enable the viewer to place it into a more tolerable and ‘secure’ context of a clear-cut gendered heterosexist economy. Its foregrounded libidinous gesture remains highly charged and intently ambiguous, exceeding and de-sublimating the aesthetic and moving the work beyond binary oppositions that determine western culture.
Art and Obscenity by Kerstin Mey