South African artist Von Brandis collected vintage footage from porn films and blurred out the performers to create these fleshless images titled Obscene Interiors. The only thing obscene about the photos, however, is what they leave to the viewer’s imagination.
San Francisco had three fantastic art fairs happening last weekend: SF Fine Arts Fair at Fort Mason, artMRKT at the Concourse Exhibition Center and ArtPad at the Phoenix Hotel. For ArtPad the Phoenix rearranged the hotel rooms overlooking the pool patio and created makeshift galleries to display local art work. I love the vibe of the Phoenix so I dragged Denys to come check out the space for a Black Rock Arts Foundation benefit party on Friday night.
The Phoenix is known as San Francisco’s “rock and roll hotel so I thought it was very fitting to have Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art here featuring black and white photographs of Debbie Harry and David Bowie taken by Richard Peterson.
Simulated sex is the new diamond skull. Borrowing from Andrea Fraser’s intercourse of intimacy and performance, student artist Eliane Lima directed actors into having hot sex performed on-site room at the Phoenix Hotel, then screened it for guests to see. The kinky video is part pornography and part performance/visual art.
In the same room, James Mitchell Perley created an installation to explore spaces that are “haunted by many bodies that successively inhabited them over time…” The shower scene was inspired by the diaries of the late director George Kuchar.
Parked outside the Phoenix we found Artis Mobilus (or Art Is Mobile Us?) a brightly decorated bus that doubles as a tiny, funky art gallery. The current exhibition features the punk rock graffiti paintings of Sean Murdock.
ArtPad went on the entire weekend with multimedia performances, panels and ending with live music poolside courtesy of Noise Pop.
BOY TOYS TALK BACK: What do you think of sex as performance art? Can pornography be art?
When I try to write about sex, I think back to when I was just out of college and, handy with a makeup brush, took a job to make some extra money doing makeup on a gay-porn film set. On the second day, we filmed a three-way that took up most of the day. The actors struggled: one was hard, the others weren’t, then the others were and the first was not, and so on. After a few hours, the director sent us all out of the room and turned out the lights so the actors could work it out. This was before Viagra—you had to have an honest hard-on to shoot. We waited outside the dark room, the lights out, even the cameramen outside, waiting, until finally we heard the signal, and then the crew rushed back in to film. We turned on the lights.
The actors were made to pause, immediately. I had to touch them up. They were panting, sweating like athletes. They’d rubbed off most of what I’d put on them. As they held their positions, I touched them up. I thought about how something had happened in the dark that we couldn’t see, an excitement that couldn’t be in the film. It was probably better than what we would film, more interesting.Too much writing about sex tries to either make it prettier or more serious, sexier or funnier or shocking, or anything, really, except what it is. On its own terms, sex is information. This I learned from reading James Salter. Reading his sentences, I saw what I knew of sex, that sex is a moment in which you are known and knowable. Whatever it is you desire appears from behind the veil of shame or fantasy or nostalgia, or sheer impossibility, and in its presence, you are revealed to yourself. Porn obscures this; porn is about the fantasy of the viewer, not the mixed fantasies, realities, and disappointments of the actors in the room. Truth might get you off, but porn doesn’t deal in maybes, was never interested in unreliable, unpredictable truth-telling.