A Case of Seduction
20-23 May 2008
Sheffield Hallam University
Psalter Lane Campus
S11 8UZ, Sheffield
Opening Hours 10am – 6pm
I approached the photographs cautiously. It had been my decision to assemble a public exhibition of the evidence of my investigation, but the reality appeared to have an uncomfortable edge. I was trying to learn from previous inquiries, Sherlock Holmes’ search for Mr. Hosmer Angel’s identity and Sigmund Freud’s explorations of Dora’s hysteria. Like theirs, my case was a puzzling one. My search had produced plenty of clues; still, the culprit – seduction – was at large.
Seduction always eludes the grasp of those that attempt to confront it directly. Its character is volatile, often linked to moral, sexual and criminal concerns. Did I ever mention to you that Frank Sinatra was convicted of an offence of seduction? It usually operates in dual situations – it is always a matter of two – and involves the getting of another to do what it wants. But do not worry; force and coercion are not part of its elegant modus operandi. Instead, it will play with the victim’s free will. Sometimes, as the evidence shows, it may even be pleasurable. Do not be fooled, though, its power is mighty.
The art gallery is a place seduction likes to visit. This gathering of clues is, therefore, a kind of trap, a way of calling it into play. The images displayed are traces of a very particular seduction, for this is a serial offender we are dealing with. What we have before us would baffle Holmes and intrigue Freud. They are the remnants of one woman’s hysterical journey through contemporary shopping arcades with their obscene displays.
The crime, in this instance, is to repeatedly stop the woman in her tracks, making her unable to look elsewhere. This will cause her trouble, as she will lose precious time (apart from her free will, of course). She will be late wherever she has to go today, inevitably very late, as she cannot resist seduction’s call. What does the object want?
I shook my head and returned my gaze to the photographs of the young woman. It suddenly seemed more playful than criminal, reminding me of the attitude seduction takes. I wondered silently who was the victim and who was the perpetrator.
I shook my head again. This case of seduction was becoming complex but I knew I would only be able to solve it by locking eyes with it and falling into its tripping game. The more I attempted to understand it, the more I found myself playing its game.
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With more gratitude than language can hold for Neil Scott’s comments on this exhibition text.