A paper I wrote with the wonderful Christopher Danowski has been published in issue 0 of ELSE, an international art, literature, theory and creative media journal. The image on the cover is also a hybrid, like the writing: Chris’ head and my décolletage. Thank god there is a fair amount of Lacan in our paper to analyse that. Have a look at this smart publication here (free but needing registration) and consider submitting. The deadline for the issue on contemplation is 1 January 2015.
From The Baffler:
Žižek: A seduction—to be successful—has to imply a moment of impotence and failure, in the sense that you playfully acknowledge your limitations. Seduction never works with perfection. People are totally wrong when they think that they should present themselves as perfect, blah blah blah blah.
I talked with a sex adviser who told me, when you have a couple where the guy’s impotent, the worst thing to do is to give him some bullshit like, “Don’t think about, just do it spontaneously.” This is where you kill him. He told me one way to do it is to tell them to imitate a purely externalized bureaucratic procedure. Like, you want to make love, okay, sit down with your partner and make a Stalinist plan.
First your fingers (she says) then put your hand on my breasts (she says). Now (he says) you put your finger into my ass. Then you get totally caught in these bureaucratic negotiations. And then usually somebody says, “Fuck it, why don’t we just fuck, let’s go.” The point is you can only do this spontaneously after you have been bureaucratic. It can get eroticized . . .
* * *
Žižek: There’s an Indian guy in Cambridge [Pranav Mistry], who developed “SixthSense,” okay it’s still primitive, he didn’t commercialize it, but it points towards the future. A simple mechanism: you have a camera, a small one, digital, on your head. You have a kind of a projector on your breast, and you are connected to the net through a cellphone in your pocket, and it works like this. The camera identifies the object in front of you. Because it’s connected, the computer can identify them. And then immediately the Internet gets the data about the object and projects them onto any plain surface. You interact with a real object, but at the same time you can project on them all the data.
And I think it’s an interesting thing because the effect is a kind of magic. Objects answer you, telling all about themselves. It must be wonderful to do this in seduction. Okay, it holds also for women, but from my male chauvinist perspective, I look at the woman and it’s projected on her. She likes anal sex, she likes her breasts pinched, she likes this music, she likes that. You get instant data on the girl. This is ideology at its purest. And isn’t it how our real lives are structured? Let’s say you are an anti-Arab, anti-Jewish, or anti-black racist. Isn’t it exactly the same what happens when you see a real Arab or Jew or black guy? You project on him all your racist knowledge. You see that he’s evil, a danger to you, or whatever, blah blah. I think it’s a perfect metaphor for our spontaneous ideology . . .
I hope you all have the happiest of times this Christmas and New Year whatever you do. I am off to Spain for a while, and then back to Scotland to be the host of a modest, yet artistic, New Year’s party before joining the Ruth Mills Winter Intensive straight after the festivities. As she writes: ‘start as you mean to continue’ and that is what I wish for you all too. I will try to live up to holiday hysteria, finish writing this chapter of mine and dance maniacally whenever I can surrounded by inspiring people, which is how I mean to continue my year. See you in 2013, if not before.
2HB Vol. 10 is in my hands. Lovely as always and the black cover is a nice touch given the mysteriousness of the texts. It fits well with my contribution, The Scene of a Crime. Thank you to Francis McKee and Louise Shelley.
With thanks to the lovely Beatriz Olabarrieta for sending me these astonishing images. So mysterious, so evocative! Well, I guess I would say that given my practice but I have spent a long while trying to figure out what goes on in the picture plain, only to be sucked in by the photograph. It is a feeling I love, so I will try to make it to the show. Nice references too: Atget, Surrealism and Chanel.
Paradise Row Gallery
74 Newman Street
London W1T 3EL
18 NOVEMBER – 23 DECEMBER 2011
Borrowing its title from one of Eugene Atget’s iconic photographs of Parisian shop fronts, Avenue des Gobelins is a meditation on the mystical, ritual nature of material desire and consumption. The central work of this exhibition is a slide-loop projection, The Consumystic. By double and triple-exposing the film, Gluzberg adopts the analogue photographic techniques of the Surrealists to produce a mesh of consumer signs and spaces: the black gleaming lacquer of Chanel, reconfigured by the chaos of a Saturday afternoon at Primark.
I am clearing up, throwing things away, filling, and wrapping, as you do when you finish as long a project as this five-year work. I cannot quite stop yet, I am not resting, although I know I need to. I keep contacting my supervisors with more or less legitimate excuses – my new symptom, it has to stop. I want to write, and I cannot. I am enjoying reading (‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen, ‘Cosmos’ by Witold Gombrowicz and ‘The Man who was Thursday’ by G.K. Chesterton, since you are asking). I am generally leading the life and the moods of someone who is totally lost and a bit bereaved, but it is not a bad thing, as I want to move on (of course I do!).
I am also updating, uploading and making some things available. In general, dragging things out until I they lead me somewhere else.
You can now see the photobook I submitted for my PhD here … As for the textual work, well, that somewhere else I want to go might be publication so I am holding the text for a while. Still, if you want a copy, do get in touch and I will happily respond.
Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, Fall/Winter 2007/2008, by Julien Claessens.
I am so sorry I have been neglecting writing to you. The end of the self-inflicted exile from these pages is near. Here’s a quick calendar update:
—— The practice was submitted on Friday 1 October 2010
—— The thesis submission is planned for 1 December
—— The Mock Viva is on the 19th January
—— The real thing is scheduled for 16 February
After that, I am, hopefully, all yours.
In the meantime, you can read a lovely conversation I have had with Alexandra Melissa Korley, published in Illywords. We talk about colour, Duchamp’s Étant Donnés and Casanova, and I give an essential reading list. Don’t expect straight answers for me, though. I have learned enough about seduction to know how to work a tease. Still, I hope you enjoy it.
Till February, with trepidation,
I am off to the Transmission: Hospitality conference, my second one this summer and one I am particularly looking forward to, as I will be part of a panel I proposed a few months back and which will be chaired by Dany Nobus. Simon Bacon, a vampiricist I met recently at the Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society conference, Miguel Santos, Allie Carr and Francis Summers, three fabulous artists, and the always interesting Sharon Kivland and Jaspar Joseph-Lester will be there, as well as a host of superb keynote speakers.
ART AND THE STRANGER: LISTENING, SEDUCING, STALKING
How does one relate to whom one doesn’t know? The stranger is all around us; we cross his path many times per day. The position of the stranger is a reversible one: for the other, it is us that take its place. The question has implications in relation to the work of art, as artists have attempted a direct engagement with strangers as part of their practices, or, indirectly, though the encounter of their work with the viewer. The stranger also has significance in the psychoanalytic setting, where the patient reveals her innermost secrets to a stranger, and the analyst invites one to the consulting room, also usually his home. Drawing from a variety of practices, from film and art to literature and psychoanalysis, this panel proposes three approaches to the unknown person, the stranger.
First, through the act of listening, we attempt to recognize ourselves in the stranger, to establish a bond, a relationship with him. Listening, however, is a very complicated endeavour. How can one listen, really listen, to an other? In his writing, Sigmund Freud proposes a technique called evenly-hovering-attention, which aims at shifting the emphasis from the meaning of the words to a more rounded approach to the other’s speech. This paper will draw from collaborative and performative practices, where the work emerges either from a conversation with a person or a group, then unknown, but becoming something else through the engagement, or from a playful and slightly mischievous activity: eavesdropping.
The consequences of being involved in the acts of talking and listening can be very varied, from friendship to love, transference and countertransference –the particular relationship of identifications between analyst and patient. But before these are arrived at, there is another interim stage, which the second paper in this panel will explore: seduction. Attracted by the stranger, we surrender our free will to his mystery. Works of art use diverse techniques to seduce so the second speaker will perform, impersonate, frame and follow –to name but a few strategies– to engage with the strangers in the audience.
But seduction hangs in a fine balance, it is already at the edge of morality. The obsession with a stranger, whom, in a delusional state, one believes one knows, will be the subject of the third paper. The act of stalking is the pursuit of someone as part of an investigation, or with a criminal intent. It involves a multitude of acts and is often the continued return of a rejected proposition –just like the repressed returns. The outcome can, as in the case of Sophie Calle, lead to a nice trip to Venice, a court appearance or, as happened to Agnetha Fältskog, a relationship ending in disaster.
These three papers, with their differing approaches and strategies to engage with the stranger, will make the audience consider their own everyday encounters in, for example, supermarket queues, art installations, trains, therapeutic relationships, lifts.
The full papers will be published on the website or the new Transmission: Annual journal after the event so watch this space!