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On Love

28.08.14
2 min
Conversation

I’m a writer and though I don’t have to tell a story every time I write I love to tell one every now and then. There is a sense of coherence a story gives us, call it comfort from all those unfnished threads in our lives. Love can set characters in motion and thus creates action. I believe it does the same to our lives. It makes us move, boast, pretend, yearn, laugh, fear and cry.  It makes us want to come closer. Or away from it. Sure, what you say is right: there would be no lovesickness, no unfulfilled longing. There would be no fear of loss and no fear of pain, no fear of dependence and no fear of being humiliated by the ones we love. No fear of abandonment and one-way-love. And yet, to deconstruct Love in a way you would deconstruct Christianity feels utterly wrong. Yes. We do have an academic-intellectual narrative about the ways we invented Love, above all Romantic Love. The One you might compare to Christianity, today’s neurosis, played out best as a marketing instrument for whatsoever, particularly our lives. But only because there is a nausea in certain manifestations of Love doesnt’t mean that Love in itself is. I know this sounds like Old Communists’ Rhetorics, claiming just cause Russia failed doesn’t mean Communism failed. But to rid us of Love is to rid us of our most human aspect: our vulnerability towards others, most of all the ones we love. Would this leave more space for action? Maybe. But I am not sure at all whether I would want to live in a world inhabited by human beings acting free from Love. Fear can make us better. And what if we are not yet at a level where we live Real Love. What if we lived out Bad Love most of our days…

On Love

27.08.14
1 min
Conversation

This is the interesting thing about Love, as you say, because like a lot of ideologies and religions it produces the suffering it pretends to do away with. Without Love there would not be lovesickness. Without Love there would be not unfulfilled longing. There might be more action without love and less fear. Less doubt. Less self-hatred. It reminds me of christianity creating the sins it pretends to forgive.

On Love

26.08.14
1 min
Conversation

So this is asking me to be the Advocate of Love…. The only bourgeois thing about Love is to believe that Love is bourgeois, just construction, invisible, wish. Sitting by the ocean I see Love in little gestures, gazes, in the tense bodies of fathers watching their kids playing and fighting with the vastness of mediterranean elements – though most of the beaches neatly tailored for tourists… I see Love mostly where it isn’t cause you see longing eating up the unloved bodies and eyes…

On Love

25.08.14
1 min
Conversation

Love is such a bourgeois subject. Is it even real? We talked – briefly, on Twitter, tentatively, but with a strange confidence – about two kinds of love, the lover*s love and the other love, a son, a father, a painting maybe even. But, very simply put: If love were real, why is it so hard to find, to see, to communicate, to hold on to? Is love ever more than just a trick of the self to believe there is some sweeter form of reality?

Groin Gazing

24.08.14
3 min
Conversation

I had this girlfriend, our intimacy involves her watching me make love to myself. I had to learn this, get used to being (aroused from being) looked at this way. In a way, something about this transgresses the construction of masculinity.
(I will come back to this.) There is, to quote art critic John Berger, a “lived sexuality” in these looks – in the sense of, to go further with Berger, the state of being naked as opposed to being nude. In this regard, it’s instructive to note that Adam and Eve’s shame, after eating of the apple, was not from each other – they were not ashamed to look at each other, their shame was from a third party looking at them. When sharing a look with someone you’re intimate with, you’re naked, you’re yourself without disguise or artifice. There is, on the other hand, a cultural way of looking, viz., how men and women are culturally represented.
I will deal with this presently. To go back to the construction of masculinity: how do men encourage women to look, to desire them? How do women look at men – that is to say, who is the looking woman? Generally speaking, men do not encourage women to look at them, to desire them in ways that reimagines masculinity.
So, all too often, when a woman looks at a man, it is a man, a type of man, looking through her. This brings me back to Milbrath’s photos and the cultural representation of men and women. What you say about the male gaze’s relation to power, its need to dominate, to make women’s evaluation of self male-dependent is absolutely true.
It remains to state that too many women have internalized these power relations and evaluation of self. Milbrath’s photos testify to this: it reproduces masculinity as a phallic force. The photographed phalluses are in attack position, they are photographed in relation to what they can do, what they are about to do. When men, on the other hand photograph women, women are photographed in a submissive, expectant (in the sense of what can be done to them, what they expect to be done to them) position. These images of domination and submission find their sharpest expression in mainstream pornography. In agreeing with you on this, I align myself with Shere Hite.
I do think, however, one can offer a critic of male-oriented porn the same way one can criticize a female-oriented one: they both express the same thing – a running away from real sexuality into objectification and stereotypes. (I am, of course, opposed to right-wing moralists and anti-pornography feminists.) I agree with you on the need to de-objectify the look of desire.
If I say, in response to your question, that acceptance of the male gaze leads to a personal and professional dead-end, what I mean is the tendency of acceptance to stifle, to limit creativity, real sexual love, its tendency to lead to the physical and emotional impossibility of the satisfaction of real sexual desire.
This takes me back to Milbrath’s photos. It seems to me that in her more-or-less conscious attempt to look at men the same way men have always looked at women, she has produced images that testify to men’s sense of self: male notion of potency, in relation to women’s submission to this potency.

Groin Gazing

24.08.14
4 min
Conversation


Me and my boyfriend have a morning ritual, when we are in different places: he switches on skype when he goes under the shower, so I can watch him.
I love to see his naked body splashed with water. It’s also a beautiful moment of intimacy in our daily life, that we share. It was new to him, but he learned to really enjoy it, also it changed his self-perception as a desired man. Do heterosexual men enjoy being looked at and desired by women?
Did they learn to enjoy it? Or is it forbidden, ‘cos we falsely connect it to passivity which is not acceptable for our perception of masculinity. I guess the magic trick is to disconnect desire with passivity and objectification and connect it to mutual appreciation. For me it was always very natural to resist seeing myself as a bait for men, as it is suggested by that presumption you mention. And I do believe that female and male sexuality are more complex than that, but also not very different from each other.
It actually never occurred to me that it’s more normal that men look at me than I look at them with desire. So, for me, Milbrath’s images just mirror a very relaxed normality in the relation I have to my enjoyment of the beauty of men, which I miss in a way in everyday life, ‘cos the images in our culture go only one way: men look at women, ‘cos gazing is connected to power, a power of judging, that men don’t want to give up. Men give women value, so women need the evaluation of men to feel good about themselves.
It’s simply a tool of patriarchy to keep women’s self-esteem dependent on men’s judgment. That is the ugly part of it, which we need to break through and turn into something beautiful and powerful for everyone. We have to distinguish objectification from enjoyment based on equality. When I see a table dance-bar, I feel excluded, ‘cos I know there are just women with certain beauty standards on stage and all sorts of men watching. I find that very limiting.
I would like to enjoy that too, I would like to see men up there, as well as people of all shapes and colours. I would like to enjoy their enjoyment of their pure physicality, dis-connected from money and oppression. This enjoyment is indeed very sexy to me, especially when its free of these standard ideas of beauty, dictated by an industry which only tries to make us feel ugly, so we buy their products and which feels indeed very dead and restricted for me. There is a performer called Diane Torr, who sometimes dresses up as an elderly man while doing a pole-dance. It’s not satire, it’s not a joke, she indeed shows how sexy and transgressive, freeing that can be.
There is the term “sex-positive feminism“, which addresses the attempt to open up this enjoyment, but with regard to equality, and mutual respect, not with the purpose of objectification and submission as we see in male directed porn or commercials. Have you heard about that? When feminism started to address porn as a problem in the 60s it focused on the porn that existed, which was produced for men and didn’t take into account female desire or sexual practices that women enjoy.
Because of that criticism feminism got this bad reputation to be against lust and desire, while indeed it was only criticizing the limitations of sex portrait in the existing porn. From there women developed their own forms of sexual depictions which took into account the complex desire different people have and which women can enjoy as well. That is called sex-positive feminism.
I see Milbrath’s images in that context. I want to see all of us shaking booty, men, women, disabled, fat or skinny, black or white, not only women with certain measurements. Do you perceive the one way male gaze is a dead end in your personal and professional life (you can take “dead end“ literally and symbolically)?

Groin Gazing

24.08.14
1 min
Conversation

The common presumption in society and the media is that erotic response to visual stimuli is not characteristic of female sexuality. For instance, pornographic magazines and videos directed at men are a multibillion dollar industry while similar products directed towards women are difficult to find. I’m looking at Claire Milbrath’s photo series of phalluses cloaked in khaki and denim, entitled “Groin Gazing,” and how it speaks to female desire. I wonder about the female response to Milbrath’s images.

Didi Cheeka
People

With Robert Capa, it’s frozen images. With Didi Cheeka, it’s moving ones. With Capa, it’s the world’s theatres of war. With Didi, it’s city streets and torn human souls. In this, however, there’s a connection: truth is the best picture. If there’s poetry in these images, it’s the poetry of disgust, a tragi-lyrical poetry.
With Didi, there’s also the power of words. Words and images, bitterly charged (like a symphony orchestra conducted in ruins). As if there’s no one to talk to; as if in desperation to reach the unreachable. Sometimes, there’s the impression of a broken poet in search of one-night stands to exchange words with…

Photo: Agostina Rufolo

Mario's Books

16.08.14
3 min
Post

I fell completely in love one beautiful autumn afternoon. One of those that it’s a bit chilly but the sun is shining and it warms your back or face up and the leaves are falling off from the trees and you get to step on them and you listen to one of the most amazing crunchy sounds on earth and there’s this cold but not so cold breeze and the smell of the mixture between cold air and the warmth of the sun in the air. This man was sitting at the door of the book shop. He was sitting on a deck chair at the entrance of the store, one of those old people use at the beach, the ones that are used only to sit down at the beach, maybe where the sea touches your feet a little bit making them fresh for a few seconds. He reminded me of Steve Zissou, Bill Murray’s character on Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic, or maybe just plain and wonderful Jacques Cousteau or a simple mariner resting after months off-shore. This book shop buys and sells used books, as many around the area, so I decided one day to see if they would take my textbooks and some children books from when my sister and I were little. I took a bunch of them, because all of them would’ve been too heavy, and rushed towards the closing store. It was 6PM, but this book store has the weirdest schedule and its rare to find it open (it’s usually open in the morning and from 3 to 6 PM) but you’re truly lucky if you actually do. I ran as fast as I could while carrying those heavy books and talked to the man that was heading out. He called Mario, the man that gave the name to the book shop. He came in a grumpy way to the door, slowly, with his walking stick serving as help. I talked to him as politely and kindly as I could, observing that he wasn’t an easy character to get along with. He took a look at my books and said they were too old and of no use at schools nowadays. He didn’t say it in the most kindest of ways, but he was right. It’s been long since I went to primary school, publishers change textbooks every year nowadays so people can’t buy them used, and there was no chance someone would buy my books from him. I was a little surprised, though, that he didn’t take the children books, which were in perfect shape. This book store was so full of books it was a bit difficult to get in, so I didn’t bother, since I wasn’t planning on buying anything that day but rather sell. But if that would’ve been the case, it’s a lovely place full of dusty literary gems worthy of the most avid explorer and curiouseur with its infinite number of paper-made floor-to-ceiling columns covering the whole place. Served by his owner, grumpy but endearing Mr. Mario, with his walking stick and his almost a thousand years old.

As pearls before pigs

10.08.14
6 min
Post
  • I saw what you did. I liked it. How did you do the image? Photoshop?
  • Illustrator and Photoshop before that to use the wand.
  • It’s nice that you know how to use everything. What’s the meaning?
  • Of what?
  • The image you made. If you find any meaning in it. How did you feel when you made it? What did you make it for?
  • It doesn’t mean anything. I didn’t feel anything. I made it because it’s going to be a fanzine cover. The things I do don’t mean anything.
  • Well, I’m sure it means something.
  • Yeah, it’s Poseidon surfing a wave made of flowers and a flamingo and a wood and palm trees and a gigantic cactus. There you have the meaning. And an angelfish popping its head out of the water.
  • I don’t know why I always feel you’re messing with me.
  • Because that kind of questions irritate me. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It just is.
  • So you don’t give a fuck about analyzing your work. You do what you want and you don’t give a shit, basically. You don’t want to communicate anything.
  • It wasn’t a graphic design work for university…
  • Or maybe you do want to communicate… A cactus, flamingos, etc. I don’t know, I didn’t go to university.
  • No, I just made a collage with some aesthetic elements that I like. Regarding an art piece, if it means anything, fine, but an art work its an individual being that when you start it you have no idea what’s going to end up being like. It makes itself. And then what it communicates depends on the recipient. You asking me what Poseidon riding a wave made of flowers and a flamingo and palm trees covered in snow and a gigantic cactus and a parrot and an angelfish it’s as if you ask me what does the phrase “as pearls before pigs” mean.
  • Well, but maybe you did want to communicate something, that’s why I asked, but if it irritates you I won’t ask anymore.
  • Hahaha. It’s up to you.
  • OK.
  • It´s about the fall of the USSR.
  • That’s what I asked first. It was easier to say that instead of arguing about it during 235235 hours.
  • Does it communicate that?
  • I don’t know, but you did it to communicate that.
  • I want your feedback. If you don’t say anything it’s because: 1. You didn’t like it. 2. You don’t think it communicates that.
  • I don’t think it communicates that if I see it isolated and untitled. I can woolgather about it and find my own connections, otherwise, and then decide if I like it or not.
  • So you need tons of assistance to enjoy an art piece. That means that you don’t like it and that you don’t think it means that.
  • I don´t think a title it’s too much.
  • It’s a lot.
  • I like a bit of the aesthetics of it.
  • Hahah what a phony.
  • Haha fuck you.
  • No, fuck you for not being able of saying the truth.
  • Why? I’m telling you. I don’t think it communicates anything about the fall of the USSR.
  • You just said that, not before.
  • And I don’t love it either, but there’s something of the aesthetic that I like.
  • You can say you don’t like it. There’s nothing more annoying that this risk-less intermediate.
  • Of course but instead of that I tell you what I do like. You get irritated by everything, and that’s your problem.
  • No.
  • Goog luck.. When that happens to me I’m not sad about seeing something I just like a detail about. I take that and that’s it.
  • It doesn’t have anything to do with the fall of the USSR, obviously. I don’t get sad, it just bothers me that people can’t be honest.
  • And why did you make it like that? You just wanted to.
  • Because  I wanted that image for the fanzine cover. Nothing else. It just popped into my mind the image of Poseidon and tropic and woods and flowers.
  • You think that if I don’t tell you I don’t like something I’m not honest?
  • And I like surfing. So that’s what I did. I think that you not telling me that you don’t like it it’s you not being honest.
  • You are judging too much.
  • No.
  • That’s irritating.
  • I’m just telling you what I think. You are looking for a way to find me irritating instead of the other way round. OK.
  • I’m not trying to find any way, I’m telling you what I get of what you tell me through this chat window. Which is another determinant.
  • OK.
  • That’s it, I try to chat, take something out of it.
  • Fine.
  • Not arguing or having someone tell me I’m not honest when you really don’t know me.
  • It’s a point of view. Take it or leave it.
  • I think there are funnier things, or maybe I’m too sensitive, I don’t really know.
  • I don’t know you.
  • Me neither. I think it’s fun to get to know you. Or at least I had that intention, we’ll see if I can and if it really entertains me. I think it’s 23223252 times more amusing to talk in person.
  • Are you testing me?
  • The same you do with me, I don’t think it’s testing, it’s getting to know the other person, I can’t find any other way.
  • I’m not testing you.
  • Me neither, no way. Testing  what?
  • You just said that… Like “let’s see if it entertains me”
  • If I feel good about it or not. I don’t get why you retain something so stupid. It’s getting to know the other person. Are you not checking out if you like me or not? You said it yourself…
  • I don’t know what I said, quote me.
  • That you sort of liked me.
  • I don’t know when I said that.
  • Anyway, I’m zero testing you, “I follow your lead”, but I get bored so I ask you out.
  • OK. I can’t today, I told you. I’m off. Kiss.
  • Kiss

On Love

28.08.14
2 min

On Love

27.08.14
1 min

On Love

26.08.14
1 min

On Love

25.08.14
1 min

Groin Gazing

24.08.14
3 min

Groin Gazing

24.08.14
4 min

Groin Gazing

24.08.14
1 min

Mario's Books

16.08.14
3 min

As pearls before pigs

10.08.14
6 min