GIRLS SICK

and

BAD

BOYS

FANTASIES

IN (0 NTE MPO RARY ART AND

CU LTURE

Linda S. Kauffman

UNIVERSITY Berkeley

OF

CALIFORNIA Los Angeles London

PRESS

PART ONE

Performance for the Twenty..irst Century f

o
Contemporary Art Exhibitionists

June 27, 1995, Washington, D.C.: The Christian Action Network (CAN) stages a "degenerate art" exhibition in the Rayburn Building, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dornan, to drive the final nail in the coffin of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). They hand out black-bordered death certificates, which they urge guests to sign and deliver to their congressmen before the ra3 rd Congress departs for summer recess. The death certificate reads: Decedent's Name: NEA. Sex: Anything unnatural. Father's Name: Lyndon Johnson. Mother's Name: Jane Alexander. Decedent's occupation: Atracking religion, tradition, morality. hnding left-wing causes. Promoting homosexuality. l.ying to the media and Congress abour its activities. Cause of death; using taxpayer funds to depict Christ as homosexual, a drug addiet, and a child molester. The event demonstrates yet again how expert the religious Right has become in its own bizarre brand of theater-and how spectacular its own fantasies arc. Jane Alexander, the mother of the NEA? What specific "leftwing" causes did the agency fund? If homosexuals could "promote" homosexuality, wouldn't they be less beleaguered today? To these people, homosexuality, drugs, child abuse, and blasphemy are all synonymous, the moral equivalent of the Anti-Christ. I pause to collect some of the propaganda, opening a book by CAN's president, Martin Mawyer, entitled Silent Shame: The Alarming Rise of

19

moreover. propped up in a hospital bed. transformed into a medical" specimen. 1 have infiltrated the meeting to investigate whether CAN violated Bob Flanagan's copyright." although he confesses that he read the novel solely for the sex scenes. a growing number of men are willing to pay hefty sums to be clothed in diapers. amused. his cheerful motto is "Fight Sickness with Sickness. made to clean house. [ wonder. and so on) raise scores of questions: What is pathology? What is "sick "] (Like Kirby Dick's film. limited to men." Flanagan rakes sadomasochism into the art museum. Andres Serrano. bound body. Visiting Hours transforms the museum into a pediatric hospital ward. And some unusual ones: Why." The regression is not. grimly scrutinizing each sex act. an alternative performance space in Santa Monica. I'm amused to see hordes of white. In one chamber. he writes: "The story drags on . too. failures. speculum. While Robert Mapplcrhorpe's exposure of the forbidden world of gay sadomasochism was an important precursor. Just as the microscope. which for so long has been presumed to he "natural. Soon. [and) becomes tiresome .20 / PERFORHANCE FOR THE TWENTY·fIRST CENTURY CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONISTS / 21 Child Sexual Abuse and How to Protect Your Children From It. suckled with bottles. Women arc fleeing. unhappiness. they arc Aeeing from adulthood-adult responsibilities. and performance artist who suffers from cystic fibrosis (CFl. MRl. where I first saw Annie Sprinkle and which hosts an annual Ecce Homo festival. Robert Mapplethorpe. Bob Flanagan is a live model of the posthuman. One corner of the room is devoted to sexually explicit gay videos. mostly male Christians and twentysomething Republican staffers primly studying each image. Which ones. the current sophisticated imaging techniques (CAT scans. their sexual procl ivities suggest a strong compulsion to repudiate masculine authority and privilege privately. medical X rays of Flanagan's lungs. and X ray not only altered what we saw hut how we perceived the human body in the past. He traces his masochistic proclivities back to infancy. SADOMEDICINE: BOB FLANAGAN of Fine Arts in Boston in I 995.. in any sense of the word. X-rayed."]? Flanagan juxtaposes the pathology of CF with the "pathology" of masochism. complex relationships with women and with other men. put in playpens. for he illustrates step by step how the human senses-taste. Annie Sprinkle. it won't come in time to save Flanagan's life. Sheree Rose. Ron Athey. Instead. secretly turned on? Someone with a video camera asks me what I think. such playacting permits men to return unashamedly to the preoedipal bliss of harmony with the mother. are amazed. I wonder. do dishes. and sighthave been utterly reorganized by technology. then reached all the wrong conclusions. Flanagan never received NEA funds. and the School of the Museum . his home away from home. it did provide child predators with common arguments and language: A 'Lolita' is a female nymphet. unacknowledged because their existence defies too many taboos.. Mawyer claims that Lolita "provided pedophiles with many rationalizations favoring child sex. they enjoy being punished.-9. Carolee Schneemann.. On the other hand. It usually kills those afflicted before they turn thirty.. I find out: the guilty artists include the usual suspects-Joel-Peter Witkin. Mike Kelley. when he spent long hours bound in his crib. exhibited at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1992. his dominant "mistress. "1 Male heterosexual subrnissivcs. and Bob Flanagan. From infancy forward. the visitor comes upon Flanagan himself. PET scans. hearing." No part of his body was immune. a hereditary disease that affects the glands and lungs and makes breathing and digestion treacherously difficult. and video monitors of his naked. Sounding remarkably like a high school sophomore. Though the story .) Ironically.. While enormous advances in gene therapy have given hope for a cure for CF.. spanked. Flanagan and Rose make us realize how little theorizing has been devoted to heterosexuality. With Sheree Rose. (They did. Visiting Hours is a site-specific installation he and his partner. one of Bob's performances is called Bob Flanagan's Sick. oscilloscope. heterosexual. touch. Men are not fleeing from masculinity. constitute a substantial subculture. [ shudder to think what Mawyer will make of contemporary performance artists and photographers. he was prodded and probed. But where men pay Bob Flanagan is a forty-three-year-old poet." I sayan camera.. Flanagan exposes one of commercial sadomasochism's best-kept secrets: the majority of customers are not sadistic men seeking submissive women. Since these men are often highly successful in public life. writer."l If this is the caliber of criticism applied to Vladimir Nabokov. some of which come from Highways. smell." the New Museum in New York City in I 994. California. impossible social problems. "I fully support CAN's right to explore its prurient interests. On the one hand. complete with a waiting room filled with toys. does CAN consider Bruce Nauman's clown or Cindy Sherman's photograph of dinner leftovers "patently offensive"? It is as if some bright undergraduate researched all the most interesting artists working today. has no socially redeeming value. however.

she is on top). 1993). Kelley photographed Sheree Rose. a "bottom. the recession. even a mean one. since she is dominant. Bob Flanagan. harmony. In Kelley's universe." is smeared with excrement. before the unconscious is censored. Flanagan revels in narcissism and exhibitionism. bottles. Flanagan places particular emphasis on the preoedipal stage. Figure 1 Mike Kelley.22 / PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY to act out fantasies of babyisrn privately. like all babies. whereas Flanagan installs himself firmly. infantile. dedicated to dismantling the penis's prestige and the phallus's authority. 1990. his libidinal dynamism. at the center of the universe. Far from being terrified of her. and I want a mommy forever. even when they have one". Courtesy Mike Kelley. He is aggressive in his passivity. Visiting HOUTS explores head on what fashion and advertising explore at one or more removes: the fulfillment of childhood wishes un-idealized by Madison Avenue. disciplines." Mike Kelley and Bob Flanagan have worked as collaborators. In 80b Flanagan: 5upermasachist (San . Kelley shops in secondhand stores for stuffed animals. Flanagan confesses. Keds pastes childhood photos over adult faces. because of all the fairy tale witches. wiping his bottom (Fig. eerily humping a stuffed toy rabbit (appropriately. spanks. He is a psychic omnivore: everything revolves around his needs. x 10 m. she relished her Francisco: Re I Search Books. however. before the infant is socialized. messes). All his life. study for diptych Manipulating Moss-Produced Idealized Objects / Nostalgic Depiction Of. Even Nuveen Municipal Bonds gets in on the act. white trash. Advertising has seized this trend: Volvo appeals to "all those who continue to be a kid. leaving the detritus of his existence (toys. he got his wish. he has been "nothing but a big baby and I want to stay that way. Mike Kelley explores this same stage. his demands. while Bob.Innocen~e of Childhood. 8 m. and Sheree Rose. and downsizing in the r990s have made many long for Mommy-not to he a mommy. When he met Sheree. the stock market crash of 1987. women prance down fashion runways in babydoll dresses. and the wicked step mother. excrement. Instead of ostracizing him. His found objects and threadbare stuffed animals are normally considered too trivial or unworthy to be art-they have been called low. then sews them all together. wholeness. promoting "the human bond": "Sometimes she holds me like she did when I was a child. the infant seems to have crawled away momentarily. Re I Search Books.1 Pop psychology's promotion of "the inner child" has migrated to Madison Avenue. Flanagan wants to be her slave. especially a mean one. I). ". Those childhood wishes turn out to be considerably more sexual than even advertising is willing to admit. to have one. as if to suggest the Mirror Stage of oneness. How else can one explain the current fashion phenomenon of preteen waifs carrying baby rattles and pushing other fashion models in prams? If the T9Ros were about power lunches and dressing for success. black and white photo."? The "mean mother" is the phallic mother who punishes.

Ballard's dystopic novel. and of Cinderella. scxily disciplined by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. He showed how fantasy functions on three temporal levels simultaneously: (I) the present provides the context. its buried content comes to the surface only when restaged. Since antipornography activists always argue that pornography must be banned so as not to sully the "impressionable minds" of children. Children concoct their own theories to explain birth. nostalgic spectacle of the power of women . which ever since then has had this crazy idea in its head that pain and sex are one and the same. an initiation that begins in childhood. always being punished for his insatiable orality. and second because it juxtaposes the social with the psychic. Visiting Hours evokes a scene that the spectator has visited long before. isolation. Flanagan instinctively recognized the latent obscenity and violence in fairy tales and cartoons. hysterical and hilarious.. the journey toward inevitable death is equally prolonged and painful.. by using medical language ("corpus spongiosum"). by Mommie Dearest). the exhibit implies. blankets. at once strange and disturbing. hut it also sent a shock through my sphincter. a futuristic paradise in which women are 'fully liberated and universally recognized as the Superior Sex. Everything about the exhibit is uncanny. mucus. fill his misera bly short life span with more than its share of pain.. The writing on the toy chest confirms the exhibition's fairy-tale quality: Mine is the bittersweet tale of a sick little boy who found solace in his penis at a time when all else conspired to snuff him out or. force-fed. The penis seemed to thrive on whatever shit the rest of the body was subjected to and rose to the occasion of each onslaught. helplessness. toys like a Superman doll and Visible Man. although this one excretes shit. One of the many fascinating things about Flanagan is that he seems to have almost rota I recall about the images in popular culture that sexually excited him in early childhood: he remembers cartoons of Porky Pig in bondage. Neither money. is tinged with sexual curiosity. perhaps. Flanagan's narrative evokes the Hobbesian notion of life as "nasty. at the very least. the only source of satisfaction comes from the fulfillment of childhood wishes. success. the chest (of toys) parallels the chest (of the body). he deftly disposes of the stereotype of man as oppressor and woman as victim. That first swat on the ass from the 0 bsretrician' s skilled hand not only started my diseased lungs sputtering to life. Linguistically. it is particularly interesting how much Visiting Hours concentrates on childhood. Fantasy is a unique concept in psychoanalysis.! Speaking of the trend toward "habyism" in the commercial sadomasochistic industry. the corpus spongiosum became full of itself and my stupid prick danced in the spotlight of sickness and suffering. but as with the psychoanalytic session. Freud was among the first to take child's play seriously. to be more succinct. (2) the past provides the wish. up my tiny rectum. (3) the dream imagines a new situation in the future. Metaphorically.24 I PERFORMANCE FOR TNE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CONUHI'ORARY ART fXHIBITlDNlSfS I 25 role. the material elements of the fantasy. inexplicable punishments. Anne McClintock notes: "Babyisrn may also grant men retrospective control over perilous memories of infancy: nightmares of restraint. with his bare bottom and open mouth. Freud warned. In Flanagan's case. sexuality. Who wouldn't let a man who lusts to vacuum have his way? He scrubbed the floors with a toothbrush (inspired. which represents the fulfillment of the wish. in their secret nursery for Goliaths. fame. A toy chest that contains sadomasochistic paraphernalia and stuffed animals sits in one corner.. and straight into the shaft of my shiny penis. comic colloquialisms ("'snuff him out. Rush- . which is designed to teach children anatomy. and brutish. pacifiers. the anti porn crusade's founding premise." "whatever shit"). and sperm. By identifying with Pandora. Flanagan identifies not with Sir Stephen but with 0 herself: "How desperately I wanted to be her." as well as Tristram Shandy's account of a prolonged and difficult quest for and through birth. The land of Fcrn-Dom is frequently described by men as a 'feminist' utopia. and puns (the penis's crazy idea in its "head"). such a world (which sounds exactly like J. the toy chest suggests Pandora's box-the vehicle that will unlock all [he mysteries (and miseries) of sexuality-female sexuality. that is. soaking it up like a sponge or. discomfort and humiliation.. rubber sheets. deriving from earliest experiences. short." Such reversals raise the following questions: Is Flanagan's sexuality "feminine" because it is masochistic? Or has male masochism simply received short shrift in the discourse of sexuality? Visiting Hours is thus saturated with a strange sense of initiatory power. passive and aggressive). Childhood. As a child. as Flanagan illustrates in vivid detail." CF and SM. first because it refers to a psychic process which is both conscious and unconscious. Reading The Story of 0. nor possessions bring happiness. Signs of infantile existence litter the museum: a port-a-potty. babyists ritually indulge in the forbidden. and sexual difference. Visiting Hours evokes scenes of infantile satisfactions (oral and anal. and grief . Flanagan satirizes the quest for rational explanations of his twin "maladies. a crib that seems more like a cage.. They turned him on and he turned his "play" into art. G. "'9 Ironically.

clothespins. sponsors. to show what it would ~can. Pornography ISthe theory. his Adiustable Wall Bra. he evokes fantasies that involve original wishes which are widely shared (the wish for health. and so on). woman is victim. Rather than disavowing castration anxiety. Ballard. but is it art? Put another way. and Diamanda Galas. Flanagan preempts the psychoanalyst (the authorized interpreter of fantasy). for being "attached" to babies by flesh is very different from the abstract concepts of paternity and patriarchy. V. and publishers. 2). and nails it to a board. while amplifiers projected the sound of his breathing throughout the museum.l! (Not surprisingly. how do fantasies work personally and for a public audience? By acting out his fantasies. Senator Helms is from the other Orange County-in North Carolina. Rather than fetishizing the female body." like Chris Burden and Vito Acconci. a pulley occasionally hoists him from his bed to the ceiling. Flanagan turns such cliches on their head.) It should be clear by now that CAN's research targeting transgressive artists did not come from the bottom up. as illustrated by Sen. Sebastian and Chaim Soutine's butchered carcass? Flanagan identifies with "ordeal artists. He builds a wall of T ." Il Item 2. Vale and Andrea Juno ace especially notable. particularly its weird ridic~lousness. In the late I 960s. Helms's list is particularly interesting because it employs the same tactics of harassment used by the Meese Commission (see Chapter 9): it targets not only individuals. but also J. and how it would feel. He was inspired in part by Rudolf Schwarzk~gler. arc fake. including the ultra right-wing John Birch Society. this ~as . J. sexual satisfaction. Items i and k refer to Sheree Rose and Bob Flanagan ("comedian Bob E "l. who "had himself photographed (supposedly) slicing off pieces of hIS penis as if it were so much salami. funding agencies. Kathy Acker. if men had to bear children. alive. Was he a combination of a tableau vivant and a nature morte. and Angry Women. Acconci." Flanagan exposes the regimes of medicine as well as those of psychoanalysis. On opening night at the New Museum. or is not. Karen Finley. Carolee Schneemann. hIS role is feminine. Flanagan's art audaciously exposes the process of gender construction." Freud defines the uncanny as ambiguity about the extent to which something is. G. If Sylvester Sta Ilone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are "living phalluses. television. whereas Flanagan's actions arc real. first. Valie Export. Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition. The fetus has come to symbolize everything that is Right about America. consisting of two mammoth cups. or a cross between Manregna's St. Flanagan's display of his puny body is a Freudian text hook definition of "the uncanny. At a pro-choice benefit. and movies. impersonating Randall Terry (leader of the antiabortion Operation Rescue campaign). he shows up naked. a grant to the Durham/Chapel Hill chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Femininity and masculinity are cultural constructs. Third. 3). The foundation of the antipornography . If sadomasochism is the practice. which are what Operation Rescue really wants to shore up. which features (among others) Annie Sprinkle. Flanagan's transformation of physical pain into sexual pleasure might be understandable from a clinical perspective. Flanagan's acts require endurance: in Visiting Hours.campaign is that man is the oppressor. brings babyisrn into the art museum. too visceral fur porn. for they published not only M adem Primitil'es." displaying the pumped body in/as excess. we also adopt and adapt the ready-made scenarios from cartoons. Hanagan's art is the theory: he places om assumed ideology before our eyes. rape the practice. Jesse Helms's letter to former NEA chairman John Frohnmayer in 1989 (Fig. attaches weights. But even here. as if their contingent material had been our own. This is where the emphasis on everyday life becomes crucial. neither innate nor natural.one of the photos that the Christian Action Network found most objectionable.400 alphabet blocks [uxraposing the letters . an awed hush fell over the crowd of jaded New Yorkers as Bob slowly ascended to the ceiling. Bob and I attended the same high school in Orange County. Flanagan acts It out-he performs it. G. reveals that even affordable housing is suspect (as Communist?). In 1990. Toy babies dangle from fishhooks in his flesh and penis. however. but the laws they have drafted would ban Flanagan's art as degrading to women. He pierces the penis." tn Schwarzkogler's acts. Mommy. for Flanagan demonstrates how we draw on events of the day to produce our own fantasies. His acts are at once too literal for art. permitted visitors to curl up in the fetal position and watch cartoons. In Seedbed (I Y7 T) Acconci masturbated under a ramp. where he hangs upside down and naked (fig. he pokes and pierces his own. But even while satirizing macho bravado.26 I PERFORlffANCf FOR THE TWENTY-fIRST CENTURY CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONISTS I 27 ing to Paradise [19941l may be what Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin want. but also corporations. like Flanagan. While Camille Paglia worships the penis and Andrea Dworkin damns it. but from the top down. Flanagan deflates it and them both. Among the latter. The cups pulsed with music or with the sound of a woman breathing. Second. The bias against homosexu- als that provides the momentum for both CAN's and Helms's campaign is evident in the letter's request for information about "Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing. Bob Hanagan: Supermasochist. Flanagan's masochism is equally threatening to men. they are contingent. California--cradle of crackpots." Needless to say.

.:.p11£1ii CA -.oj J Figure 2 letter from Sen.~1~~on and I.I\4. 1ik. ...~1d..-----" .rohn !...rc~~. t.Ufl l"ro_yer Nae10nsl ~dowm.e gt-·'mtt.1el . Val.lnd.qzmrt: ta prod. ncla..!1) of ~. purpo..r~•• o~ live .-e. ..- ----~--" Hnirnf SCm! Smarr 1.l.. lut.. .r.emotienal pr ••• nta~1cn "~I Comedian ~ of ~~s 4u~o.n·::E -L"5 -------_. bloco!e~t~~q r~:~al.. ~ . to call Ann neeeee or John lIaehJ>=n at my U a~ 224-6l42".d by Andrea Juno an~ V. bl~ CI Bobby JunD ~.. or 4:"'~~.tu .. h..a.~"~. shawL •I Pm 1'13. :.. 8~lic1t nbDc••xual pho~oqraph•. l !d.:.o W'Ork f.. . 1989.. W••h1~~on. . pi....1QD JESSE !1!t.. . L1 Str . Jesse Helms to NEA chairman John Froh nmayer. ..r of ·~ad.hzlM" - .r pn Cqgtwp::?pry Art (COCA} J. ~ VW.u. ~ ca~le9Ua raque.. f •• "U%inq pho~aqraphy by Bobby Nee! . " §qsthpm SA" f'ranCl.rn 1.d"g . O••r ~.~ 1. for ~h•• ngDer..nt fo~ ~h.i.C.1 ShertS Rp .un . Ch&ir.u:WQlS 1.ylv... 1989 /Ir" . Ch.i ~:: ~_ .c~pl1n.1989 _r . bcndaq.t rlwctEM IDG*tpt...c~. jl Le.. Frallnluoyer '..nm: en an A....n.~~=~l~rly I'd.h~~~~~n .:..e.bow pU"I:: on by 3Clr.....A ~1. M!srMCB PJlJr..c.'='tJ.. . d I cp". 4i..t"tortla.. _to .low r.n.. Should yo~ h~v•• ny qu•• tlon.vld.t1t at the Rabi~at orqan1~ac1on.aporary Body Kodification~ c~ra~... gf $"ttl..D . 4) ..~~oQ1nq.~ed t.r pI dou't h•• i~&'C..d.l o~q~~z.. 'Ot t:h.ti.ed F~hl.rn Primdt1v.d.~c.a-~od. in ehi~ ma~~... t-Q 9rll:'l"t. • Nc..rDL~C .n.:..g.~1 . ~nd i_ SO~ and &m01iUl't cf 't~.r~1n9.~ ..uc.tillMf r thank you in aOYance tor your aB. ".i..e. 1YW11 ~.uri.1ye•.lia gl. November 1.:I1::1t:U~[JD..KI.i~n! I p. .· .". Pr. Art.-omta ••••• ..... 20306 .Qr~q.~'ClUinq genital pi...MS::ad q I AlJJ.J.s .tJu~ wn..Dn anna - 401 U..f~.nti. as '-.l .ble __ tn . ~~c. CI3p_~1Uoft ter Ute b_.r 1M E. c.J.· . '.n~1~1. c .. ~ 1100 penn_.t...q .:! Juo_ .d WLLh a provoca~Lv. da.m.a.•-.l:.ml. sa~r~!i~B~i~n ('~Cl comb~n.. -how i.• AVm1U. lertIlIIi or Prg111(jS MIjIucl CQrpqrl.LiI(j.qards ./ pho~c9r4pny of ~. teta1.c.abama . on Cont..._".. .~ ....5t:.uppo:'t1. . Wa."....U.h.. Mdr. D.leo. or works..N.ace 198:1 •• p~j.."tJtIc.n S~.~i..t~ola. 'C ~.

Courtesy Bob Flanagan. 1992." That is why Bonnie Klein's expose of the sex industry on Forty-second Street in New York City was called Not a Love Story: sex . and aggrcssiviry. coffins. Lacan describes a Hieronymus Bosch landscape symptomatically." That is an important point. Santa Monica Museu m of Art. Photo: Scott Boberg. the acquisition of language (a system built on differences) and the discovery of sexual difference. particularly what Lacan means in "The Mirror Stage" by libidinal dynamism. because. Flanagan thus fuses medicine with sadomasochism to prohlernarize the relationships between the social and the psychic. Decem bar 1992:. as if to evoke the DNA codes. descent and ascent. in Flanagan's case. the day will come when science is itself the greatest producer of pornography. Flanagan was to be the subject of a forthcoming photo-essay not in a porno magazine or even an art one. will play the same role that the bare breasts of Polynesian islanders performed in the I 940S wildlife documentary films. ropes. the letters that have become crucial in the gene therapy that will one day provide a cure for cystic fibrosis. Ballard suggests.. as]. etc. CF and SM. 4)." What Lacan calls the fragmented body's "aggressive disintegration" recurs not only in Flanagan's dreams but in his art. The alphabet wall also reminds us that pornography (from the Greek pornographos) has a linguistic component. "Bizarre experiments are now a commonplace of scientific research." L~ As if confirming Ballard's prophecy. which planned to devote an issue to the phenomenology of pain. (The project was eventually canceled because the magazine capitulated to the climate of fear that Jesse Helms created. remote inner castle. dividing it into two opposed fields of contest where the subject flounders in quest of the lofty. reflected in his twin obsessions with such confining apparatuses as cages. I learned better how to read Lacan by writing about Rob Flanagan. The weird perversions of human behavior triggered by psychologists testing the effects of pain. between disease and desire.. The alphabet blocks memorialize two simultaneous landmarks in childhood. narcissism. and his invented persona as a sexualized Superman (Fig. "11 Flanagan's art is similarly divided into two opposed fields of contest between confinement and escape.] The antipornography campaign is sometimes called "the redemptive sex project. isolation. anger. with its "inner arena and enclosure .CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONISTS / 31 Figure 3 Bob flanagan in Visiting Hours. G. The sterile medical environment is itself a "perverse implantation. Lacan refers to man's "organic insufficiency in his natural reality". moving ever closer to that junction where science and pornography will eventually meet and fuse. cystic fibrosis makes literal the notion of "organic insufficiency. but in National Geographic. Conceivably.

Does anyone doubt that this topic is taboo? AIDS comes immediately to mind. Sheree was in a traditional. you would sec the entire spectrum of the rainbow. Flanagan works annually in a CF summer camp. any sexual desires. and so forth. since the terminal disease is his own. 39-40). Flanagan forces us to speculate about the unthinka ble: the sexuality of diseased bodies. leukemia. Flanagan is fascinating because he lives without shame. Bob and Sheree try to explain how sadomasochism has created an astonishing bond. And I'm like . the advertisement glosses over the reality that people of color are dying in disproportionate numbers from AIDS. Disease feminizes Hanagan.. and while much has been written about public policy and AIDS activism. We know we must die. The difference is that Flanagan does not titillate and tease." While dominating him. Flanagan points out. He gives new meaning to the idea of "social work. in fact. Had I been able to reproduce this illustration in color. any tangible sexual acts. far more than muse. Sadomasochism. But as medicine becomes increasingly technological. The two greatest taboos Hanagan violates involve both sex and death. "I am ultimately (this is what every masochist hates to hear. for him.32 I PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY· FIRST CENTURY CONTEMPORARY ART txHJBlrIONISTS / 33 FlgurI! 4 Bob Flanagan: Sup€!rmo50c/Jist (San Francisco: Re I Search Books.. While implying that the only color that matters is the color of your condom. moreover. they support his art. The multicolored condoms float freely. "1 want to give something up and he part of somebody else". cashing in while seeming to cultivate a social conscience. or admit) in full control" (BF. hut he objects to CF foundations that sensationalize "cute little dying kids . she gets a little smirk on her face. and other diseases. shaped by two strong wills. cooperate with videotaping. To defend sadomasochism as "consensual" does not begin to describe the subtlety of their dynamic. 5) is illustrative. Rose's contributions to Flanagan's art are indispensable. though this film is not. Courtesy Re ! Search Books. death becomes more and more abstract. Sexually. Flanagan explains. but it is only apparent to those who know them well. J 2). IR I am not implying that Flanagan's doctors are evil scientists.!" The Benetton advertisement of multicolored condoms (Fig. should be about love. since historically women were the first to be "hystericized" by the medical establ ishment. two wicked wits. it is about stimulation and heightening of the senses. so part of her pleasure with Bob had a "certain revenge aspect of ordering a man about. visit his exhibitions. the notion that those afflicted go on feeling sexual. sitting by his bedside and sharing stories of their own experiences with cancer. Bob reports with a laugh. hut the knowledge remains theoretical until "the end. or having sex. where talk show hosts are shamelessly manipulative. One could argue that strangers confide in talk show hosts all across America every day. she deserves recognition as cocreator. detached from any tangible bodies. sadomasochism is the ultimate closeness (B"~ 3 2. is not about pain per se. constraining marriage. The rainbow coalition of condoms ignores all such painful injustices and realities.." for there is something about his utter frankness that inspires strangers to confide in him. Before meeting Bob. Bob told me that what surprised him most about Visiting Hours is how museum visitors turned him into a father-confessor." Flanagan maps this uncharted country with considerable courage. Ironically. one point every commentator who sees Visiting Hours fails to mention is that Flanagan's and Sheree Rose's relationship is a love story too. 1993). or being desirable to others is still wholly taboo.-34.

many of the "children" at camp see him as a hero.ced where his head would be (will bel-in the coffin. Her dying wish was to meet him. inviolate art space with the messy debris of everyday life. and on the other he confronts spectators with a "terminal case"-rheirs. the nobility of suffering. Flanagan demonstrates how conceptual death has become. alimental body. sex. as well as his own. With a lifetime of infections and his lungs all filled with phlegm The CF would have killed him if it weren't for Sand M. Courtesy United Colors of Benetton. Boh appears as himself in a parodic cameo in The New Age. Bob's black comedy supplied the film's publicity tag: "A shopping spree for the morally bankrupt. man!" Asks another." They are grateful that he refuses to sentimentalize death. uncanny. "is that we cannot comprehend how we can die. As you peer more closely. the romanticism of death. "for sorneone's weary head. Toscani. Now 40 years have come and gone and Boh is still around . and immortality of art. to be sung to the lyrics of Mary Poppins's "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious": . not sex." He has also composed a song. irrevocably transforming the pristine. thanks to a hidden camera. the poster child from hell saying. decorated with wreaths. Amid the sadomasochistic paraphernalia and the video monitors of Bob's naked. consciousness. Flanagan dcconsrrucrs the cherished concert of the human by staging the elemental." IY On the one hand. but his mordant wit thwarts every cliche about death: he undermines pity with satire.. Michael Tolkin's satire on phony spiritualism in Hollywood. fear with fervor. Wallace Stevens was right: sentimentality is the death of feeling. After he appeared in Modern Primitives. Boh has cyst ic fihrosis He should have died when Iw W<lS young bur he was too precocious . sensation. Bob's face suddenly pops into view on a video monitor. is propped up in bed.. bedpans. When you peer inside." Since he got his start as a stand-up comic. The effect is startling. compares Flanagan to Amelia Earhart and . he is mercilessly satirical about sentimentality. horror often has a fiendishly funny streak. He confronts visitors with their own voyeurism by turning the tables. bound body. the most stunning object in the New Museum exhibition is an expensive. and all of Flanagan's art is about living with heightened feeling. He. and the ubiquitous oxygen tank nearby." David Cronenberg observes.. 'Don't give us money because we'l! grow up to do things like this!''' Nevertheless. food. Supcrmasochixtic Visiting Hours thus destroys the spectator's repertoire of received ideas about the transcendence David Leslie. 6). "The basis of horror. Concept and photo: O. one boy hailed him: "Hey-saw you in that magazine.. spring-summer 1991. Visiting Hours captures that macabre comedy through surreal juxtapositions of objects: a bed of nails on a gurney (on which Flanagan occasionally rcposes). is the last mystique. He simultaneously deconstrucrs the concept of the museum. Young CF campers warm to him because he refuses to condescend to them or to reduce them to some stereotypical "impressionable young mind. a port-a-potty with a big pillow beneath it. watching you watch him (Fig. By actually moving into the museum. pl. a performance artist known for his deconsrructed re-creations of heroic moments in media. and illness: intravenous tubes.H I PERFORfrlAHCf FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CEHTUR'( CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONISTS I 35 Figure 5 Benetton advertisement: multicolored condoms. Death. full-size casket. and doctors seldom pull back the curtain to give us a peek. From Poe to De Palma. suddenly your own face appears on the monitor. "Where did you get your nipples pierced? Do you have anything else pierced?" The Make-a-Wish Foundation recently asked Bob to fulfill the dream of a seventeen-year-old girl named Sarah. described by the foundation as a "nineties hippie and talented artist" who sees Bob as a mentor. after all. Flanagan stages the horror.

where: "1 methodically cleaned everything up." but when he performs. For the first time. arc particularly notable because they so amply illustrate the motifs I trace in this book: the interaction of high and low. women laugh. Their "deviant technology . a series of live landscape exhibitions that traveled to Geneva. produced and directed by Jonathan Reiss. Literally hundreds of other recent art exhibitions besides Bob Flanagan's demonstrate that experimentation with the hody is the aesthetic at century's end. but of all experiences. innate. Berlin. in his short gan describes hammering a nail through his penis.P Bob and Sheree have also appeared in heavy metal rock videos by Godflesh.36 I I'ERFORHANCf FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CONTEHPORARY ART EXHIBITIONIHS I J1 Figure 6 Bob Flanagan in bed. and Her Lover) curared a series of exhibitions all over Europe between 1991 and 1994: Flying Out of This World at the Louvre. enshrined in the tens of thousands of vehicles moving down the highways. G. Robert Dole helpfully catapulted to fame when he damned it in a speech on May 31. The exhibition is made up of items and images from the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum's collection that Greenaway rearranged to comment on the body from youth to old age "with a mingled sense of humour. Flanagan. nor do they see anything natural. and Barcelona in 1994. Post Human. The Cook. in the most humble machined structures and commercial laminates. Flanagan does for medicine what J. When he reads this story to a live audience. G. in terms of his courage.21 The Physical Self. they ask what it means to see the human as an organism. Instead they concentrate on the constructedness not just of gender. Sexually.. 1995· By showing the link between sex and technology. to control the action and confront the audience with their own psychic investments in penis (the piece of meat) and phallus (the symbolic privileges masculinity confers). One Hundred Objects to Represent the World in Vienna. Courtesy Bob Flanagan a nd Sheree ROSEL Evel Knievel. Madrid. my blood swirling down the drain like Janet Leigh's. psyche." to see that atrocity as an "exhibition"--on display like an artifact in a museum. His Wife. Ballard and Bob Flanagan. provided the sanction for any perverse act. and Chain Saws. which Sen. Flanagan may be a "bottom. These exhibitions take nothing for granted. or universal ahout the human. and Abiect Art. or humanism. the body. The human body is a methodological field. Ballard did for cars." Similarly. followed by simultaneous events in Bilbao. He opens himself up to expose the ills flesh is heir to. multimedia experimentation. and Moscow. one of the "sick boys" in my title. senses. just from villain to victim story. Women. memorialized for the millennium.t" Flanagan not only recognizes how weirdly comic Hitchcock's Psycho is. The Belly of an Architect. surprise and some nostalgia. theory and practice. "Body. in the giant jetliners lifting over our heads. naked humans in Plexiglas cases." Three exhibitions. a benevolent psychopathology beckoned towards us. New York. is a stoic comedian. Carol Clover observes that adolescent fans of slasher films shift their allegiances while watching the movie. and "Happiness Is Slavery" by Nine Inch Nails. and the emphasis on technology's reorganization of body. "21 In Men. featured live. The Pbysical Sel]. one that has to be revisited. men faint. the Thief. from birth to death. seen in Rotterdam in 1991-92. Danzig's It's Coming Down (1993). but adeptly shifts his own identifications from villain to victim." Flanablood flowing everylike Tony Perkins. male to female. those intimate . Tokyo. revised. THe PHYSICAL SnF (1991) filmmaker Peter Greenaway (The Draughtsman's Contract. Prospero's Books. he relishes the opportunity to go over the top. to see that organism as an "atrocity. As do J..

Figure B Benetton advertisement: newborn baby. Far from being obscene. still attached to the umbilical cord (Fig. one reclines. Figure 1 Male nude in Plexiglas case. Boymans-van Beuningen Museum. it has left behind. "2b The first "item" to confront the spectator is a naked man (Fig. Concept and photo: O. Greenaway takes pains to point out that this image was banned in Britain. fall-winter 1991-92. sculptures. price and commerce which arc conditions to be recalled in the substance of everyone of the artefacts on display in this exhibition. Greenaway's aim is consciously to withhold the "value-judgment connotations" of the terms naked and nude.38 / PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY·FIRST CENTURY CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONISTS / 39 UNITED COLORS Of BENETION. first part of the exh ibit The Physical Self. as does Bob Flanagan. the message here is that we are all alike. mortal traces that consciously and unconsciously. curated by Peter Greenaway. An ironic reversal: Bob Flanagan is censored for portraying death. 1991-0ecember 1." By installing an advertisement in an art museum. Every image is an ad- . propaganda. the image has a corporate logo: United Colors of Benerron. two sit. the ad implies that mothers no longer matter. they remind the viewer of the process behind the "product"-it is as if one has stepped into a life-drawing class. both at the moment of their manufacture and now. sale. Rotterdam (October 27. As with the multicolored condom advertisement. Greenaway's aim is to subvert the distinction between high art and commercial products. Benetton for portraying birth. Greenaway consistently highlights the material base of artistic production. I1). united at birth. These naked people make particular demands on the viewer to look and to see. but-as in the condom ad-all the material differences that point to ugly realities (like the disproportionately high infant mortality rate among people of color) are effaced here. Toscani. The live humans arc "the markers. He points out that "it is an advertisement making reference to manufacture. 7) "presented and illuminated like a consciously exhibited museum-object" (PS. By effacing the mother's body but including the obstetrician's hands. 1992). R}. only the right to life matters-and only doctors "deliver. stripping away its mystique in the process. the templates" to which all the paintings. two are female. one stands. In place of an artist's signature. drawings. and artifacts relate. Courtesy United Colors of Benetton. The next image to arrest the viewer is a just-delivered bloody newborn. too. Two of the figures are male.

Greenaway's abiding obsessions are with classification. Food is a metaphor for the Thatcher era of conspicuous consumption. He combines the obsessive-compulsive mind of a taxonomist with the perversity of a fetishist. but . Greenaway is particularly interested in what comes out of the body (like babies). fashioned by many subjectivities-collector's taste. IIC' has an abiding obsession with the interpenetration of word and text. is a Jacobean revenge tragedy. 15)· As a curator and a filmmaker." Deitch argues. for The Physical Self is an elegy without nostalgia for the idea of the human.. "a familiar password. a fact that most reviewers failed to recognize when they condemned it as pornographic..) As with Ballard and Hanagan. or an attitude. and can make a strong identity of the physical self . food. The Pillow Book.. a presentiment. which is why the finale features cannibalism: the State is eating its citizens alive. Curator Jeffrey Deitch boldly asks whether a new model of (he posthuman person is emerging. although mother and child are both absent from the scene. constructed from images in new technologies and consumer culture. (As we shall see in Chapter 9. taboos.v-" The posthurnan person's predominant interactions are with machines rather than with people. the Thief. Bret Easton Ellis similarly uses cannibalism as a metaphor for Reagan's United States. "our children's generation could very well be the last generation of 'pure' humans. labor is omnipresent here. Plastic surgery and "genetic reconstruction are adding a new stage to Darwinian human evolution. so that a display on "hands" includes all the objects that bear the marks of hands. similarly. organizing the exhibit rnetonymically. especially food. and ideology at work in the culture industry. and the Holocaust-they mark the autobiographical step and tread of more than two hundred individuals walking more than ten thousand miles" (PS. stereos. The baby ism Bob Hanagan evoked recurs throughout the Post Human show: Mike Kelley's Brown Star consists of undifferentiated blobs of stuffed toys sewn together. premiered at the Cannes film festival in May 1996. The Cook. academic eclecticism" (PS. The Cook. and with what goes in. Post Human assembles a dazzling array of commodities: televisions. Why is the worker unable to escape? Because he is a slave to his acquisitions. Greenaway deconstructs the human and the museum simultaneously.. national dictates. a belief or a desire. which march smartly down a Tokyo street. Taro Chiezo assembles five little dresses. shoes. and every object in varying degrees of consciousness. a remnant of an organic age that already seems long ago and far away.40 I PfRFORMANCE FOR rHf TWfIHY-FIRSr CfNTURY CONTfMPORARY ART EXHIBlrIONIST5 / 41 vertisernenr for a concept. the Post Human show looks forward. which is a bout a Japanese woman's erotic obsession with words painted on skin. Ballard a gift for allegory: The Draughtsman's Contract exposes the British as predators who suck the creativity and lifeblood from the Irish. and perversity. Few detractors recognized. but the ideal. it reveals the contingency. a picture of metamorphosing feet. clothes.s" a rumination very much in keeping with the issues that preoccupy him as curator.. that tWO of his films. for example.83)· As the Benetton newborn illustrates. bears a signaturea consciously placed design label" (PS. 14). He highlights "the artificiality of a museum display . His Wife. Whether that label is signed Benetton or Braque. but Post Human examines the implications of that radical proposition. one finds the Magritte painting The Red Model. At the press conference. the order. taxonomies. POST HUMAN (1992) If The Physical Self looks back elegiacally. Greenaway notes: "They bear. and toys point to the insatiable demands of consumprion. Greenaway's work combines wit. financial pressures. He approaches the human as an artifact. suggested that the millennium might have been miscalculared. Pitiful reminder too perhaps of the collections of the poorhouse . and melds them into a metaphor for the preoedipal bond of mother and child. more than any other human garment. Greenaway (whose fascination with numbers is legendary). He is a classical filmmaker known for his rigorous intellectual control. not born. 82). We may not quite he ready to embrace the idea that the human organism is made. too: the cagclike confinement of alienated labor is the subject of Darnien Hirst's The Acquired inability to Escape (1991). irony. compact discs. like soft watches. In the "feet" section. black humor. the Thief.. arbitrariness..jusr as Peter Greenaway highlighted the materialist base of artistic production in The Physical Self. Priceless monuments do not form an ideal order among themselves-someone constructed not just the monument. sex and text. His most recent film. each frame is composed like a painting. Kelley takes trivial objects and trivial labor (sewing is women's work). including the fetishist's leather glove. and Her Lover and The Baby of Macon. among surrealists" (PS. and the art space. dangling from the ceiling. a steel and glass enclosure for a white work-space and office chair. G. the intimacy of the individual. He shares with his fellow-Briton J. are meditations about the history of painting.

Orlan seems to echo this when she proclaims. ill exchange. Since the new concept of self is devoted to surfaces rather than depths. The pristine space of the gallery is defiled with simulacra of sperm. Martin Kippeuberger's Martin. shaped and reshaped by evolution." Figu re 9 Martin Kippenberger. numerous works highlight the elemental. Ballard. alimental body. The sculpture reminds us that Stand in the Corner and Shame on You one of the earliest innovations that reorganized the human senses was the ability to walk upright. excreta arouse no disgust in children. Freud speculates: In rhe nurvcr y •. as Orlan confesses. Helpless. combined with the erotic energy of Bob Flanagan's scenarios of discipline and punishment. Yet many of the artists in the Post Human show consciously evoke Freud. Martin. and which should make the excreta worthless. humans sacrificed the sense of smell. They seem valuable to them as being a pan of their own body which has come away from It. Stand in the Corner and Shame on You (1990). with their reversed orifices and paradoxical anatomy. For example. as if she were in the midst of some evolutionary metamorphosis from animal to human. Prehistory perhaps marked the most radical evolution. Photo: Martin Kippen berger and Ronald S. with its emphasis on the agency of the ego being located in a fictional direction. Lacan.42 I PfRFORHAHCf FOR THE TWENTY·FIRST CENTURY CONTfHPORARY ART EXHlSITIONlSfS I 43 they remain uninhabited by girls' bodies. there is a new sense that one can free oneself from the past and the genetic code. Cindy Sherman's photographs of male and female mannequins with interchangeable. and Kristeva. Amid all the technological toys in the exhibition. this exhibit memorializes all the nastiness. aided by computer morphs and plastic surgery. Kiki Smith's Tale (1992) (Fig. however. Charles Ray's enormous female Mannequin (244 em) makes a male onlooker look like a child. abhorrent and abominable. It conveys the same poignancy of George Segal's plaster casts. blood. brings one right back to Lacan's Mirror Stage. as with Visiting Hours. thus deflating the legendary power of the male gaze. Indeed. feces trailing from her anus. (T 990) (Fig: 9) is a witty bronze sculpture of a grown man (presumably the artist) standing in the corner like a bad boy. the very fact of being in love with one's own image. As we snail see in the next chapter. Deitch maintains that the Freudian model of the psychological person is dissolving into a new model that dispenses with analysis of how the subconscious molds behavior. exposed-the sculpture epitomizes abjection. curiosity. . obscene body parts are as disturbing as the Hans Bellmer dolls so admired by]. Courtesy J@ffrey Deitch. disgusting. ro) is a sculpture of a naked woman on all fours. Such a reversal of values would scarcely be possible if the substances that are expelled from the body were not doomed by their strong smells to share the fate which overtook olfactory stimuli after man adopted the erect posture. vulnerable. Here uphringing insists with special energy on hastening the course of development which lies ahead. G. and dirt. realizes that one cannot simply repudiate psychoanalysis. feces.. The show demonstrates that the new construction of the self is conceptual rather than natural. an atomic bomb's mushroom cloud in the background. indeed. I fight against God and DNA!" Orlan. and cruelty of childhood: Yasumasa Morimura's blood-red photograph Brothers features boys pointing toy guns and toy howitzers at each other on a devastated battlefield. undigested food. It also historicizes abjection: the five senses are historically determined. "The body is obsolete. Lauder Collection.

for the historical referent is continually receding-to the point of extinction. "I believe in the body odours of Princess OJ. Allure magazine will be there.. in "What I Believe. few people under thirty even know what the little red book is! Thus for many consumers. With reporting about fragrance and fitness. gray photo is offset by one vivid slash of red lip color. I think J. Tole (1992).44 I PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY· FIRST CENTURY CONTEHI'ORARY ART fXHI8HIONISTS I 4S Figure 10 Kiki Smith." The advertisernent "works" (by which I mean it does invisible ideological work) by conflating six million Jews with six million "fashion victims" and by destroying any sense of history as struggle. Ballard. travel and trends . How exactly does advertising capitalize on cultural amnesia? One has only to turn to Allure magazine (Fig.. the revolutionary beauty. which features a Chineselooking young woman in drab. cosmetics and culture.000." To repeat. G.tion that we are moving toward a very different understanding of what culture might be. And when nail polish becomes political. and fashion becomes philosophy. and novelists in my study are like anthropologists. totalitarian garb. Most ironic of all. FIgure 11 Advertisement for Allure magazine (May 1991). filmmakers. They are also engaged in a recovery project: to restore and record what the media sanitizes.l) I said earlier that many of the artists." to say. Smith's Tale is thus the perfect antidote to all those commercials and advertisements for "feminine products. The grainy." Tale was created in the same spirit that led J. Beauty makes a statement.000 women who used to carry a little red book now carry a little red lipstick. a time before objects became invested with the values of "purity and danger. these artists specialize in the opposite: memory. ". 11). history.. Allure. The copy reads: "Why 6. This image exemplifies my statement in the introdUl. Maoist. material production. Freud cites this as evidence of how quickly civilization marshals its energies to enforce a repression that begins by being "organic. G. Collection of Jeffrey Deitch. 1call the artists in my study "boys and girls" because they revisit the time before their infantile values-what one might call their obiectiuiry=-sei« reversed. investigating an alien culture.'' Since the media capitalizes on cultural amnesia. evolution. Ballard had a paradox like this one in mind when he noted that . the ad does not need to make sense to be effective.

the psyche substitutes supplemental objects (makes good and bad object choices) to fill a lack that by definition is unfillable. naked humans "presented and illuminated like a consciously exhibited museum-object" (PS. They are also indebted to Julia Kristeva (whose own work draws on Mary Douglas). instincts. The defiant choice of "had objects" is celebrated in all four exhibitions discussed in this chapter. Kristeva shows how these themes recur in the great masterpieces of Western literature. Kiki Smith's Tale is clearly a study in abjection: the prostrate woman exposes the flayed body beneath all our defenses. too. the abject signifies the lack of undifferentiation. She defines abjection as the recognition of uiant. and has been repressed by Western culture. Some of the same artists in the Post Human show are also represented here: Mike Kelley's photograph of Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose. and analyzes the semiotics of biblical abomination. its application to linguistics. The maternal is the realm of the Imaginary. with its pendulous bronze balls and breasts. the myth of omnivorous sexual and reproductive capacities are all signs of the abject. In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. absurd juxtapositions. she offers brilliant insights into Dos- . and psychoanalysis. Cindy Sherman's mannequins. The mother-child relationship is the paradigm for all subsequent subject-object divisions. for these artists refuse to forget or repress material conditions of production and historical specificity. on which any being. She kicks the foundation away from the feminine mystique. meaning. the messy involvement with babies' bodily functions. and how that original process results in viewing others as objects. The Oedipus complex is one of the "tales" Western civilization tells. Smith provokes the viewer by dispensing with femininity's vestigial pedestals. a pioneering anthropological study that analyzes how different cultures define dirt and cleanliness. Above all." Genetic manipulation may create outward perfection. Freud's study of infantile neurosis. and he suffered from an obsession with feces. Smith illustrates. once weaned. Beneath that mystique. and works by Kiki Smith and Robert Gober. One of the aims of the Abject Art show is historical: it juxtaposes such objects as Duchamp's urinal. not just the original but even what the copy referred to has already disappeared. degraded materials. Another tale that is equally pervasive is the tale of femininity. with an emphasis on found objects. Warhol will no longer make sense. male-female. Their investigations are indebted to Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger. She then shows how that monstrosity was reinforced through the ages. The primal scene inaugurated his fear of castration and the Oedipus complex. anthropology. lactation. subject-object. life-death. the compulsive search for supplemental objects is one explanation for the emphasis on fetishism in these exhibitions. but inner neuroses. he made a bowel movement in his bed. Abjection is closely related to desire and to the death drive. The show investigates the fundamental premise of psychoanalytic object relations theory: the paradigmatic "good object" is the mother's breast. language. the permeable boundaries (as in pregnancy) between self and other. with more recent works. She traces the process by which the maternal feminine came to be constructed as monstrous in the Old Testament. and Kiki Smith's flayed bodies bear witness to the emotional wreckage that festers below the plastic surface. which relegates woman to a pedestal (elevated but confining). one that has captured the imagination of artists throughout the twentieth century. inside and outside. Smith's Tale returns us to the primal scene: when the Wolfman witnessed his parents making love from behind.46 I PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIIlST CENTURY COHTEMPORARY ART EXHI8ITIONISTS I 47 someday soon. sexuality. the female body in particular-menstruation. Kristeva writes as a psychoanalyst-semiologist. this exhibit's title is a pun on object art." Smith's sculpture also evokes the Wolfman case. lies a deep revulsion and repression of the female. as well as writings ranging from Leviticus to Derrida. Fear of the vagina dentata isn't the half of it: the devouring maw. That awareness gives the art in Bad Girls and Sick Boys its singular urgency and poignancy. it precedes the oedipalization process of socialization into the Symbolic. or desire is founded. just as Greenaway's declared aim was to display live. Krisreva says that the distinguishing characteristics of abjection include fear of the female in general. buried beneath the myths of femininity. 1 I). and Louise Bourgeois' Nature Study. Abjection dismantles Western civilization 's dichotomies: self-other. as Deitch points our. Claes Oldenburg'S Soft Toilet. she is interested in object relations theory. and reproduction. and bodily functions are not so easy to mold. ABJECT ART (1993) The Whitney Museum show Ahject Art: Repulsion and Desire in American Art in 1993 continues the dialogue on abjection that The Physical Self and the Post Human shows began. the exhibition's theoretical foundation is Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror. inside-outside. in addition to her stunning exegesis on religion. Here. for the Wolfman became sexually aroused only when he saw a woman on all fours. life and death (as Freud described the uncanny). she analyzes both Freud and Lacan.

. the NEA chairperson.. Perhaps]. a Bible-toting Republican prominent in South Carolina politics.14 July 2. CAN's lobbying turned out to be cnorrnouslv effective. The "armor of the I" and its vulnerability to shock. transformed a figure of almost universal loathing who haunts the community and resents its worst fcars. his stance reinforces the argument I have been making about controversial artists themselves being abject. Ironically. Gingrich was silent. and expulsion. With the exception of Bob Flanagan's and Joel-Peter Witkin's work. others explore ways of coming to grips with death. and Paul Begala.. the only good genius is a dead one. economic . Faulkner was no stranger to censors. most of the work the Christian Action Network highlighted that hot June night was from the Abject Art show. Borges. Congress Votes to cut the NEA's budget by 40 percent in the current year and phase it out entirely by 1998 or T 999. On a big easel.!' that bepsythat pointo rep- Philharmonic just because of a few "mistakes. But abjection also signifies otherness. dislocation. The Jew. Two women's photos dominate the front page of the Washington Post on July 29. The connection that Kristeva makes between chological categories and socio-political processes leads her to claim anti-Semitism functions as a receptacle for all kinds of fears-sexual. alienation. through the Reagan and Bush administrations" (AA. former NBC journalist. Kristeva shows how anti-Semitic fantasy codes the Jew as abject-a scapegoat who is feminine and weak. Some of the artists approach sadomasochism as a means of dissolving the boundaries between self and other.out Highways' Ecce Homo exhibit as particularly (and patently) offensive. Indeed. narrative.. is . a foreign hody retains a certain familiarity and that therefore confuses the boundary tween self and other. subordination. necrophilia ("A Rose for Emily"). he knew that in their view. mortality. Jewishness signifies "sex tinged with femininity and death" (PH. and a sociopath who rapes a judge's amoral daughter with a corncob (Sanctuary). Proust. 11 Grants to individual artists are now a thing of the past. for Kristeva. Clinton's campaign advisor. 1!-J94. trauma. I asked Thomas if he realized that Faulkner's fiction features idiots in love with cows (The Hamlet). Some artists. Absalom!). mutability. Artaud. The public debate over the NEA similarly reveals how thoroughly these artists became the receptacle for all kinds of repressed fears about the body and the body politic. Baraille.9. much less to defend it. Begala's position was the "one bad apple" argument: don't throw out opera and the New York In his rebuttal. When Smith confessed to drowning her two young sons on November 3. castrated black men (Light in August). and Celine. dismemberment. G. 185). litical. they quoted the catalogue's introduction: "Our goal is to talk dirty in the institution and degrade its atmosphere of purity and prudery by foregrounding issues of gender and sexuality in the art exhibited.. said the attack will hurt the 1·3 million people who work as artists in America. yet threatening. representing CAN.. and persecution are the artists' topics. When testimony showed that Smith was sexually abused for eight years by her stepfather. anchors abjection within a body. 1995: Jane Alexander's and Susan Smith's. As Judith Halberstarn notes. Still others use their art to highlight the imagos of the Mirror Stage." Begala reveals the extent to which contempora ry writers and artists are scapegoats. Celine. United States (1957). simulate body scarification to subvert the phallic power of the male gaze. James joyce. booksellers of both Sanctuary and The Wild Palms were prosecuted for obscenity. she si~gled. in her chapter on Celine. Nancy Kassebaum voted against the NEA. which-as 1 mentioned in discussing Flanagan earlier-Lacan described as having a Boschlike emphasis on fragmentation. Each writer represents a different typology of abjection. Newt Gingrich blamed the Democrats for the breakdown in "family values" that led Smith to murder. Such a project was deemed urgent partly because of a disturbing trajectory of 'politics' in America .48 I PERFOR"'A NCE fOR THE TWENTY-fIRST CENTURY CONTEMPORARY ART EXNIBITIONISTS I 49 toyevsky.6).. The highlight of the evening was a debate between Cal Thomas.. hostility) that the nation most wants to disavow. The Jew . national. these were among the books Judge Jerome Frank defended in Roth v. incest and miscegenation (Absalom. when Sen. Ballard was right: the insane can see the sick souls of their caretakers. his early career as a medical student focused on puerperal fever. . Cal Thomas began by mentioning that William Faulkner never got a federal grant. receptacles for all the disturb~~g elements of existence (disease. cultural. and syntactic structures (PH.. and devouring. different psychic. 1995: One month after this spectacle. like Hannah Wilke. for by blaming "foreign bodies" or "outside agitators. 7). 2. for example. on whether or not to kill the NEA. Jane Alexander. links abjection to maternity." He steadfastly refused even to look at the art in the adjoining room.

. its scenes and smells were a gritty antidote to what he called "the cancer of Romanticism.. Copyright 1993 Time Inc... u r. Said one. 17. Q•. as if covered by a spiderweb .5 percent Middle Eastern. Since his father was a doctor in Rauen..5 percent Asian.." Flaubert confessed that he could never look at a beautiful woman without visualizing her corpse.. 7. ·c. seemed like a black hole at the lower part of her face . In the fall of 1993. nevertheless. Gustave Flaubert. which was open... held together by the strength of its style.. "\ Madame Bovary was not banned merely because of the sex scenes-it was the nihilism of passages like the epigraph above." which he cauterized by writing Madame Bouary. the hospital was his childhood playground..' No wonder minorities are skep- Figure 12 "The New Face of America: cover Time magazine (fall 1993) special issue.. the cover girl is only a composite created by cyber-geneticists who combined six races to create a "morph" (short for metamorphosis) of their ideal beauty... 35 percent South European. 12). 17.. l 0' """.r. ....." I . The cancer of Romanticism.. Madame Bouary CUTUPS IN BEAUTy SCHOOL I 51 .. They had to raise the head a little......._"Id " · . as if she were vomiting. While seeming to promise racial tolerance and assimilation.5 percent African... 'It really breaks my heart that she doesn't exist. tical of the buzzword assimilation: the composite eliminates all racial and ethnic markers.. lives on. several staff members promptly fell in love. the corner of her mouth. and 7. although the cvber-geneticisrs seem blithely unaware that this oversight could conceivably be perceived as racist. They have fallen in love with their own invention... and a rush of black liquid poured from her mouth..-s:.. "a book about nothing . "We have the technology! It's the woman's body that's ..o Cutups in Beauty School Emma's head was turned towards her right shoulder. which by repudiating the teachings of the Church posed an "outrage to public morals. like the frustrated infertility researcher in David Cronen berg's Dead Ringers who protests petulantly.... her eyes were beginning to disappear in a viscous pallor.... _ ."0 ... Time magazine created a special issue titled "The New Face of America: How Immigrants Are Shaping the World's First Multicultural Society" (Fig."'l The men do not seem to grasp that no breathing woman could match their ideal. ..5 percent Hispanic..... The cover girl is 15 percent Anglo-Saxon.. 'Time's editor writes: "As the onlookers watched the image of our new Eve begin to appear on our computer screen...

" I call them cutups because they are often bawdy comics. who inevitably find all but one wanting. staging the body as a carrier of signs and as a cipher. particularly the drives that lead men to turn the female body into a fetish. and writer. Beneath the comedy. Eye Body (1963). lies a serious shared objective: to examine the vicissitudes of psychic life. Viet-Flakes (1965). It conveys rites of passage-particularly in reference to the emerging secularization of women-as expressed through metaphor and symbol. and commerce capitalize on that lack. her first completed experimental film. Interior Scroll (1975) is one of Schneernann's signature "kinetic actions": a naked Schneemann extracts a paper scroll from her vagina and reads a text on "Vulvic Space" (Fig. captured on film over several hours. If the serpent."! . she transforms it from object into subject-a historically unprecedented and widely influential concept. Carolee Schneernann's work moves closer to the latter. satirizing the culture's investments in femininity. or cut-Out. Centuries of mythology. anonymous young women have paraded before male judges. She anticipated the Body Art movement of the I960s and 19705 and choreographed for the Judson Dance Theater (whose members included Meredith Monk and Yvonne Rainer). art." No wonder so many women artists are Gorilla Girls and Angry Women. icon. belt tower.' actively creating a new antiaesthetic by interrogating those who have the power to define beauty and to proclaim that the woman's body "needs work. exploit that (invented) inadequacy. filmmaker. chalice.52 I PERfORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCIIOO( / S3 all wrong!" Was there ever a time when woman's body was not "all wrong"? Ever since the Judgment of Paris. Schneernann sees the work as being about "the power and possession of naming-about the movement from interior thought to external signification and the reference to an uncoiling serpent. it is also the Egyptian symbol of eternity. Morgan writes: "On the spectrum between artifact and ritual. plumb line.)" C. "7 In an interesting reversal. Schneemann locates thought inside the body rather than equating thought with mind. at least they agree that beauty is a racket. which focuses on the atrocities of the Vietnam War. is the film component of Snows.~ Schneernann shows how the antiaesthetic relates specifically to the insides of the body. Photo: Anthony McCaLl. rainbow. Courtesy Carolee Schneemann. evokes Eve in the garden in the Book of Genesis. CAROlEE SCHNEEMANN i "How can I have authority as both an image an d an image rna k er. Whatever else divides twentysomething women from feminists over forty. records the artist's trancelike self-transformations. Robert C. 13). the umbilicus. to actual information. however. culture. a happening realized in collaboration with the painter Erro. literally extracting internal messages. for instance. what "comes out" are more signifiers than can ever be categorized and la beled. like a ticker tape. has been asking that question since the early 1960s. Figure 13 Carolee Schneernann. By using her own body. a pioneering performance artist. Far from merely celebrating the body's unmediated essentialism. Interior Scroll (1975). choir loft. Of Schneemann's assemblage Pharaoh's Daughter.arolee Schneemann. torah in the ark. and tongue.

. a clock. vulvas. possibly futile effort to document (via magnetic tape and flashbulbs) some- thing in time (the clock)-not a single event. 1966). We live in a c~/ture of oblivion that perpetrates a kind of self-induced denial in which the meaning of the recent past is continually lost or distorted . Sumerian. Schneemann shares the archaeologist's zeal for unearthing shards of alien cultures and mythology. Katrien Jacobs's videotext quotes Schnee mann in T975: "This is Kitch . paint. blood and milk. slides. much like feminist history was always lost or distorted. and sausages which aims to "dislocate. She documents the meals of her cat. chickens. . expanding them into unkno~n and unpredictable relationships'" in "an exuberant sensory celebration of the flesh.. and shar?s of glass (Pharaoh's Daughter. regeneration was symbolized by the sculpting of large breasts. Why. "16 While conventional wisdom might view this consciousness as "lower. the human soul was originally conceived of as residing in body fluids. suggesting lacerated emotions and the threat of castration. custom. Its significations cannot be disconnected from the vicissitudes of psychic life." a catechism of femininity's idees recues: Vulva goes to school and discovers she doesn't exisrl Vulva goes to church and discovers she is obscene. Meat Joy was one of the targets of the Christian Action Network's exhibit of "degenerate art" in 1995 (see Chapter I).. both Meat Joy _an_d I~terior Scroll are indebted to Schneemann's research into shamanistic rituals and practices." 11 The performance entailed "intense. throughout Europe. As Katrien Jacobs points out." As the director. _ Vulva reads essentialist Feminist texts and paints her face with her menstrual blood and howls when the moon is full. . Schneemann shows that bodies arc made. taboo. Vulva asks scores of questions. "11 Her other works are witty antidotes to Ducharnp's sterile "bachelor machines": motorized violins mounted on the wall move rhythmically as if simulating sexual intercourse.. older women were revered as repositories of erotic knowledge." the Egyptians thought differently. Translucent as skin. she does not write. Schneemann mixes the clements that religious injunctions insist must never be mixed: meat and dairy products." The box paradoxically combines a methodical application of materials with randomizing techniques-what Schneernann calls "controlled burning. mind. which resembles a pedagogic manual on "becoming woman. As with the other artists in the Abiect Art show. is "cock a thing and cunt a place"? In my introduction. body "within the most baSIC rea I 0 fh uman per f ormance. II) again comes to mind: if ad~ertisers induce oblivion. Schneemann . Kitch. she does not act.. men were acolytes. devoting an entire Super-S diary film (1972-76) to him and a photographic wall (Infinity Kisses II981-86]) to kisses from another cat. Her ecstatic Dionysian orgies reunite spirit. and serpentine umbilical cord~_9 Inte:ior Scroll simultaneously evokes the umbilical cord and menstruation (still a taboo topic in most religions and pornography).. Schneemann had to focus on "subtle interrelationships in which both absolute concentration and spontaneity were demanded of each participant. She reminds us that in ancient Minoan. wooden box contains lights. compound and engage our senses. She rescues women's history and art from denial and disavowal.54 I PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BfAUTY SCHOOl I 55 The snake's (oiling energy also connotes the cosmic energy of the womb. as Schneemann notes: "You do get an instinct for where the repression is. ." But a cutup is also a comic. Of men. she suspended her naked body in a swinging harness and wrote on the walls with chalk.. not born-their exit from the womb is wholly mediated by the interventions of religion." 1. does not speak. Among the multiple significations of cat in Schncemann's texts and videos. a high. and ." [(I The cultural arnncsia induced bv the Allure magazine advertisement (Fig.1 The shards suggest the detritus of civilization. technology. Schneemann is my first example of a "cutup in beauty school.. the shards can cut deep." she wrote. "J am a sound." 11 Her themes are the metamorphosis from animal to human and transgressive femininity. and many of Schneemann's works are wickedly funny. and Celtic cultures. Walter Benjamin's ruins and debris."!" Equally comic is Vulva's School. spontaneously inscribing the wisdom that came from the body: "I am hungry. I said that I call the artists in this book "boys and girls" because they approached the body with childlike curiosity. She definitely influenced my theater. one in particular stands out: the vulgar pussy. Schneernann's Meat Joy is a performance of nearly naked humans among wet paint. Cluny. raw fish. concentrated group energy structured over weeks of rehearsals." Jacobs narrates: "In VI} to and Including Her Limits. Schneemann's aim is to re-member. "Is this what you're so scared of: this moist pussy? It this the Terrifying Other-the clitoris that has to be excised or chopped off or rendered mute?" 17 In Up to and Including Her Limits (1973-76). but many moods and feelings which have found some material manifestation within a disturbing and intimate space.. Schneemann asks. discarded flashbulbs. wads of magnetic tape. She destroys the human languages and enters a 'cat level' of consciousness. Definitely.. like a child. The objects point toward a chaotic. Vulva asks. "way out of sync".

one of the collective's objectives is the invention of a feminist pornography. and in your facesometimes literally and sometimes with a vengeance. medicine. biology and history in this profoundly intimate installation of life's fleeting essence. material. Indeed. Sprinkle inserts a speculum. Vale a nd Andrea Ju no (San Fra n· cisco: Re / Search Books. and a rendering of the cyclical movement of human process. Her aim is to highlight the generative vulva's significance and to recontextualize it in history and culture. Annie Sprinkle makes lesbian and bisexual desire. Her abiding preoccupation with archetypal forms is testament to humanity's hunger for community. spreading her legs and amiably inviting him to come closer. her most notorious routine. Video Rocks (1989) is a sculptural field of handmade rocks. Her unflinching exploration of her own archives demonstrates what discipline and philosophical rigor the examined life requires. drawing. Onstage. whose affinity with the ancient sacral is-as ever-full of risk. words and sounds. and sculptural elements to continue this exploration of the repressed material in the culture. in Angry Women. She makes us wonder what exactly we know about life and death. which originated in the Aegean islands and were contemporary with Minoan culture. sexuality. ed. as if to say. "You want to look up my skirt-why not go all the way?" (Fig. writing. Sprinkle singled him out when she came onstage. and transcendence. disperses flashlights. but she too focuses on erotic power." In Cycladic Imprints. Sprinkle deftly deflated the spectacle's prurience. Schneemann's aim is to reintegrate it as a literal and allegorical source of erotic power. film. Her motives for exhibiting her cervix: "Be- Figure 14 Annie Sprinkle with speculum and ftashlight." a month-long series organized by a collective called Carnival Knowledge (echoing Bakhtin's notion of the carnivalesque}.f?" Vulva resembles Helene Cixous' "Laugh of the Medusa" with her myriad questions and laughter. By cheerfully giving him permission. Known/Unknown deals with illness. She is all mouth. built by monks in 1750 to ward off the plague. love and sex. V. Schneemann reassemhles cellular and microscopic representations of visual information: the cellular. Schneemann merges her motorized violins with nude torsos and images on four projectors of Cydadic sculpture. she proceeds to chatter gaily about her menstrual periods and daintily administers a douche. (The column is a sculpture Schneemann photographed in Austria. ritual.) Using video monitors. Schneemann excavates and recontextualizes such Freudian topographies as "the dim Minoan regions. video. She brings us back to our senses. performance. In Public Cervix Announcement." Several works in the last decade confront mourning and mutability. another mixed-media installation. formed to counter the Moral Majority and antiabortion activists. is based on the kinetic experience of a space that comes alive with evocations of recently deceased friends through photos. and photography." Schnee mann's inspiring example is an affirmation of how artists can combine painting. and the body substantial-tangible. erotic. is inspired by men who seek equity with passion and grace. at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. and sculptural objects.t'<' She participated in "The Second Coming.56 I I'fRFORHANCf FOR THf TWfNTY-FlRsr CENfURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL I 57 Schneemann notes: "My work celebrates the male." While some feminists fear that the body will disappear with the advance of technology. Mortal Coils (I994). when I saw her perform at Highways in Santa Monica. an inquiry into the Impressionist landscape. Since the vulva's significance has long been displaced by both pornography and medicine. . he demurred. and death. in 199."?? Schneemann's reflects. and clinical collide in these images. Courtesy Re! Sea rch Books. 14). and invites the audience to look inside. As with Bob Flanagan's work. She talks and talks. video. Known/Unknown: Plague Column (1996) uses photographic. photographs. and moving projections. calling herself a "post-post porn modcrnist. ANNIE SPRINKLE Annie Sprinkle lacks Schneemann's formal artistic training.7' I was seated next to a "dirty old man" armed with a camera. California. 1991). "In some sense I made a gift of my body to other women: giving our bodies back to ourselves.

repeating after her and spelling out U-T-£-RU-S.) hotly debated whether her show's spectacular climax consists of ejaculate or urine. "19 Parody works best when it exposes the irrationality and absurdity of the censors. J 5). Heart (00 I have to give up me to be tove« by you?) (1988). because I want to share that with people. She must have gotten a kick when the Society for Cinema Studies Panel (May 1992. the entire audience lined up for a look. she manages to convey something of the nasty tone of children playing doctor2na tone Bob Flanagan also expertly mimics. Was Annie indulging men by exposing herself. Sprinkle is a droll and bawdy satirist who consciously evokes the legacy of Sophie Tucker. Sprinkle is unquestionably adept at turning the tables. and female burlesque. Photographic silkscreen/vinyl. I had to admit that here was something most people. What are they afraid people might see? Barbara Kruger's photograph (Heart) gives lIS some idea (Fig. and uninspired approach to sexuality. Sprinkle chronicles her own transformation from ugly duckling to porno star. for when Sprinkle performed in Cleveland in 1990. and all those lewd. . unimaginative. and men's irrelevance to female pleasure. women as well as men. polymorphously pan-sexual heroines in popular culture. New York.s" And she has clearly hit a nerve. "It is a fascinating comment on American culture that when Annie Sprinkle performed live sex shows in that Figure 15 Barbara Kruger. x 111'h in. under her direction. New York. lusty. or did her over-the-top orgasms confirm men's sexual insecurities? In contrast to men's routinized. But it is herself-rather than some exotic species-that she is scrutinizing. she knew things about women's sexual responsiveness (her own and that of her lesbian lovers) which men had not even dreamt of. Collection: Emily Fisher Landau. 111"2 in. Courtesy Mary Boone Gallery. The cliches were having a ball. Unlike them. we all got an anatomy lesson.NE TWENTY-HIlST CENTURY cururs IN BEAUTY SCHOOL / 59 cause it's fun-and I think fun is really important." Just as Roseanne has metamorphosed from ugly duckling to self-proclaimed domestic goddess. had never seen before-it was for the gynecologist's eyes only.58 I PERFORMANCE FOR . Sprinkle is an "unruly woman": she belongs with big ladies like Roseanne and pig ladies like Miss Piggy. Mae West. same city. the vice squad came and made her omit the speculum in her next show. "Do I have to give up me to be loved by you?" Kruger forces us to ask what the notion of identity in general and the word me in particular really signify. Although I fretted that we would be there all night if everybody had a look. a form several feminist performers have accentuated. When she concluded by giving herself a prolonged orgasm while we in the audience did tantric chanting. often with the earnest deadpan voice of an eighth-grade science teacher. Sprinkle was having a blast. Williams drolly remarks. The small writing asks.t'-' At Highways. I had to laugh: Sprinkle was trotting out-acting out-all the cliches of women's sexual insatiability and masturbatory self-sufficiency. like happy children on Sesame Street. (At Highways. as Linda Williams notes. to my dismay.t At the same time. she was never visited by the vice squad. she clearly had a vast repertoire of sexual techniques. There are other reasons: I think it's important to demystify women's bodics.

production. and Maria Beatty (who collaborates with Carolee Schneemann). like Sprinkle and Schneemann. giving her the owlish look of a character on Star Trek (Fig. "What. porn is a timeless and fabulous world: the men are always erect. they may have the most to gain by endorsing an antiaesthetic that defies it. between the female body and the body politic. Other artists are seizing the technology in both computer and medical labs. She chose these women not for their looks hut because she was intrigued with the weave of stories surrounding them: the rumor that the Mona Lisa was a self-portrait of Leonardo in drag. Through a series of plastic surgeries. \1 Like Time's cyber-geneticisrs. the mythological tales of the adventuress. Like Annie Sprinkle." Orlan shows. in my view. the impossibility of meeting them. one finds Orlan.. the unchallenged assumption that every woman wants beauty. However much they lust after their ideal beauty.l or "46 and still rather ugly-even after six operations . From Cervantes and Rabelais to Madame BOilary and Notes from Underground. the forehead of the Mona Lisa. she exposes all the implications they overlooked: the arbitrariness of the standards. Time's cyber-geneticists would never want to see the gruesome plastic surgery that would be necessary to make a woman's face match the computer morpho Where the virtual and the visceral fuse. religion. and the beautiful. most of her clients are men. distribution. she is always inventing new techniques by which to test the thresholds of pain and pleasure. But actually she aims to exorcise society's program to deprive women of aggressive instincts of any kind __ . Sheree Rose. she is in the process of acquiring the chin of Botticelli's Venus. like a Picasso? In fact. the nose of Diana. but to the untrained eye the one muscle resembles the other. Orlan relies on a digital computer to visualize her ideal "morph. Indeed. She peels away the sedimentary layers that have made this artificial process seem "natural. "1\ Orlan told me that Hilton Kramer remarked dismissively that if she really wanted to do something transgressive. she finally found a feminist surgeon (and amateur sculptor) whom she calls a "surgical aesthetician. ". romance. but in her professional life as a sex worker. the women always insatiable. a number of them have worked in the sex industry: Kathy Acker. is a projection of male fantasies compiled through the centuries in myth. why not put both eyes on one side of her head. Orlan comes as dose as she can: cheek implants have been implanted above her brow. They substitute the lower carnal body for the upper regions of intellect.. thus leading back to my earlier point about what women stand to gain by endorsing an antiaesthetic that critiques the ideology of romantic love. literalizes a specific organ in order to defarniliarize the stereotypical connotations enveloping it: heart equals love. is transforming her face into a composite of the icons of feminine beauty. through plastic surgery. "is Woman?" The answer: a person of the female sex. Just as Bob flanagan's art explores his heterosexual masochism. 16). the good.14 Attitudes like these explain why it took Orlan two years to find a surgeon who understood that her aim was not to make herself more beautiful. Orlan exposes the process of projection. the eyes of Gerome's Psyche. Just as Bob Flanagan dismantles masculinity." but by putting their theories into practice."ll a "slightly plump woman of average height. ORLAN "Orlan" is the fictional name of a French art history professor and performance artist who. Kruger's motto is "Seduce. Only in certain relations of power and exchange does she become a servant.. The point is that Kruger. the mouth of Boucher's Europa. then intercept . In New York City. _ her pug-like face would need something more than the skill of a surgeon's knife to reach the Grecian ideal of perfection." Simone de Beauvoir asked. the ugly. a womb.'.. Elvis Herselvis. and exchange. passion. Maria Beatty's explores her lesbian masochism. for since women have been most subjected to the ideology of romantic love. She tracks the interrelation- ships between sexuality and pathology. If the parts of seven different ideal women are needed to fulfill Adam's desire for an Eve made in his image. Diana. Like the genre of romance. art. Orlan has variously been described as "a beautiful woman who is deliberately becoming ugly. "F . not the cervix.60 / PERFORMANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRH CENTURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL / 6I as well as what love is.." "Woman. "Orlan's performances might be read as rituals of female submission . the perverse. and sex worker. and incongruous juxtaposition.") This is actually a photograph of the heart. Pepper the Mexican sex goddess. Orlan consciously chooses to undergo the necessary mutilation to reveal that the objective is unattainable and the process horrifying. In her roles as performer. She defies conventional categories: in her personal life. her lesbian lover is a dominatrix. Susie Bright. and the antiromantic have been used to satirize the true. ".. videographer. But pornography parts ways with romance where love is concerned. one of the virtues of porn is that it is antiromantic. defamiliarization. or a sexual partner. Many other women artists seem to agree. These artists stage their own bodies as sites of contestation through parody." As Barbara Rose observes. Orlan deconstructs femininity.

He argues that the modern view of the orgy must be rejected. the inadvertent packaging of violence and cruelty like attractive commercial prodw. rape."lH Therefore. here in the end of the zoth century we're now again in an enormous Baroque period.. Theresa. The surrogate Madonna is subsequently condemned as a whore and raped to death. In The Baby of Macon the juxtaposition of innocence and violence tests several film taboos. death and sensuality. But to subvert the madonna-whore dichotomy of the old masters. after she murders his true mother. whereupon implants. For over twenty years. The infant is first adored. as does Orlan. an old hag.. one has only to turn on the evening news to see murder. She calls one operation "The Reincarnation of St. as does Orlan. G. following Bataille's theories on transgression and taboo.. A beautiful young woman claims to be his mother. Blood is everywhere. cation. oscillating repeatedly between reality.62 / PERFORHANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BfAUTY SCHOOt I 63 Orlan points out that there are not many images that cannot be looked at. the film raises disturbing questions about articles of faith and the suspension of disbelief. and massacres in living color.. capitalism and communism. then sacrificed and dismembered by his worshipers." she says. film. In our lives. "The hidden logic at work within the mass media-above all.. the orgies in Greenaway's film are so numerous and violent that watching is almost unbearable. that world is paradoxically peopled with ghosts: primitive rituals of sacrifice and purifi- Figure 16 Orlan with implants above eyebrows. she leaves one breast exposed.. for "Bacchic violence is the measure of incipient eroticism whose domain is originally that of religion. "lift" the skin and pull it taut. Greenaway desacralizes Christianity in general. The deepest theme in The Baby of Macon is the pictorial representation of Madonna and Child. "42 Both Orlan and Greenaway illustrate that in order for the institution of Christianity to be erected.. mystical Indian rites. who is "unseemly" in the regime of representation. it is all the more remarkable how difficult it is to watch Orlan under [he knife. then sent it out to be enlarged to full scale. Orlan arranges all the props for an orgy. 1993. reminding us that the etymological meaning of passion is "suffering. we have seen the Baroque used as propaganda for the two great C's. they share an abiding fascination with the history of painting in general. baroque transports of ecstasy. As Greenaway explains: "The Baroque age was the first time various art forms were combined to create a certain form of propaganda which . l~ Peter Greenaway's Baby of Macon is an intriguing analogue to Orlan's work. In the "Christianity" chapter. this time with a small b .:ts-has already spread throughout the worlrl. Orlan" and poses as a Baroque White Virgin. As J. in imitation of Bernini's Ecstasy uf St. Orlan is awake." As allegorical as a medieval morality play. submitting only to local anesthetic." GENERIC ANTECEDENTS AND IMPUCATIONS While Orlan heralds the world of the posthurnan. inspired by Caravaggio. the Baroque in particular. Batuillc laments that Christianity reduces religion to its benign aspect. '"'I try to suffer as Christ did. The plot revolves around an infant who mayor may not be Christ. the Catholic Church in particular. Courtesy Orlan and Sandra Gering Gallery.":" Surrounded in the operating room by nearly naked black men doing a striptease. Ballard notes. New York. Orlan has worked specifically with Baroque iconography. medieval rituals of fleshly mortification. and morality-playwithin-a-play. she carved a prototype out of marble. Her skin is essentially cut away from her face and laid across her nose. Orlan's femme morcele parallels Greenaway's hebe morcele: both trace the links between sacrifice and eroticism.. was put to usc for the church . Christ himself had .

she let him know that she should have been included." Those words are an uncanny description of the psychoanalyst's function-to answer people who are feeling their own pain. she receives messages from Tukyo. Like Ballard. Orlan opens a window to the world via satellite. and interactive. instantaneous. First." Orlan's New York show at the Sandra Gering Gallery in 1993 combined the concepts of omnipresence and virtual interactivity: while the surgeons operated. Episrolariry is now international. and modem. Latvia. The other side faces the cyborg future. aesthetic. the Situationists' spectacle. and clinical-all at the same time. Without the crucifixion. but transmitted messages back to her instantaneously. in La Voix Humaine (1930). cyborg. Lying prone and vulnerable. hut his title pays homage to Cocteau. Jean Cocteau was the first to link ancient epistolary conventions to a new communications technology. the telephone. Like the artists in the Abiea Art show. supporters around the globe not only watched the operation. One fax transmittal read: "Paris is with you. she combines the functions of intercessor. She makes the verbal and the visual intersect. Orlan's actions cut through three discrete genres: (I) Western classical painting. there would have been no church." "I was able. Her installation at the Pompidou Center's Hors Limites show in r 994 was called Entre (In between two): she stands between past and future. which has undergone several recent transformations as a result of technology. is always abiect. Orlan"the city of Paris. mother.) She did participate in the Virtual Futures conference at the University of Warwick in England in the summer of 1995. The "eject. from Leonardo da Vinci onward. Well-wishers around the globe "correspond" with her. not the mythological beauty contest judge. she embodies a new psychopathology of everyday life." Orlan's own aims are not quite so utopian. Like virtual reality and God. We will not know the results of the tumultuous global changes we are undergoing and creating for a hundred years or more. it provides an apocalyptic frame of reference. the juxtaposition of posthuman technology and ancient religion serves several additional functions. She stages the problematic of belief. "To answer. means "to respond". if we can survive them. and staged-all at the same time (Fig. for Orlan's "correspondents" can see as well as hear her. and Baudrillard's simulacra." as Kristeva points out in her discussion of Bataille. (When she learned about Jeffrey Deitch's Post Human show. (2) the genre of the psychoanalytic case study. Just as her face is a composite of many icons. Artificial hearts. with specific attention to Lacan and Freud (who wrote a famous essay on Leonardo}". when the inorganic far outweighs the organic elements of the body. While the surgeons operate. is. that is. and responds to their questions and comments. organ transplants have already transported us into the world of tomorrow. Orlan is Janus: one side faces the past. uncovering every day vast new landscapes for exploration. Moscow. Paris. Orlan serves as intermediary between present and future." she says. instead she dissects both ideological poles with surgical precision. and analyst (on whom one projects one's loves and hatreds). hair implants. which memorializes the obsolete body. Orlan uses the new technologies in medicine and telecommunications to create a psychological self-portrait. Greenaway and Orlan are obsessed with the way subjects are sutured into the cinematic or visual space. it also signifies revelation of what was. Orlan invests "the talking cure" with new significance. carefully preserving its viscera as reliquaries. We arc children of the 21St century and live already in the future unknown. which had the declared aim: To bury the zoth century and begin work on the z r st. Email novels have already begun to appear: Avodah Offitt's Virtual Love (T994) consists of on-line correspondence between two psychiatrists. one that reflects how profoundly the human senses have been reorganized by those technolo- . the missing feminist link between the Surrealists' unconscious. picture Tel.U I PERFORMANCE 'OR THE TWENTY-fIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL / 65 to be ejected. While she is on the operating table. This takes epistolary communication far beyond the powers even of E-maiL The "correspondence" is visual. In Orlan's work. human and posthuman. breasts. hears. she shares with the world an overwhelming desire to communicate. for she docs not approach the millennium with either fervor or fear. reproductive technologies. irs causes and consequences. everybody is plugged in and hooked up. Orlan invents a new model for epistolariry and simultaneously performs it. but we are less interested in knowledge than in experiencing these changes. for while apocalypse generally connotes catastrophe. just as she sees. it docs not imply that either the analyst or Orlan provides the answers. She is righr. Orlan is our age's Cocteau. to answer people who were feeling their own pain as they were watching me. Orlan is everywhere and nowhere. It is multiple. "without feeling any pain. a woman's dramatic monologue on the telephone with the lover who abandoned her." however. fax. (3) the genre of episrolarity. visiophone. Nicholson Baker's novel Vox (199 I) substitutes anonymous phone sex for the letter. spontaneous. and will be. They examine how subjects simultaneously subject themselves and others to institutionalized violence and power. 17).

Instead.agogue: during surgery. Since psychoanalysis involves "working through" old materials (dreams. Recognition: the act of knowing involves doubling. fantasies. If the Mirror Stage is the structuring moment when an ideal of unity. She brandishes a skull's head. it seems fitting that Orlan recycles every material thing. November 21. a third the feet for a single painting. but of re-creating the self through deliberate acts of alienation. Small wonder that Orlan would one day like to do a whole exhibition on abjection: she is Exhibit A. exposing the optical trick that creates it. that evokes such revulsion. Lacan argues. She never lets the spectator forget that the ideal is illusory. I have witnessed firsthand the hostility she arouses. The agency of the ego is founded in a fictional direction. It almost seems as if she wants to transform the famous Surrealist image of an umbrella and a sewing machine on an autopsy table into a tableau vivant. but based on misrccognition_ Narcissism. re-creation. Orlan shares Peter Greenaway's and Jeffrey Deitch's view that "the body is obsolete. delighting in absurd juxtapositions. collaborative art works in which one artist designs the head. She and the medical team don costumes designed by Paco Rabanne or other couturiers. She is a . disavowed-right up to the present moment. another the torso. quite literally.) As the French representative to the Sydney Biennial in December 1992. or crucifix. Orlan actually transforms the operating room into a carnival of campy humor." the body merely a costume. history. "I no longer recognize myself in the mirror." Although many feminists have taken issue with Freud for equating femininity with narcissism. is ontological.lt~ repressed. Omnipresence: scene from the operating room durinq seventh plastic surgical operation. which illuminates Orlan's numerous comments about her own image: "I've worked with my own image for twenty years.Tike the Surrealists' "exquisite corpse" projects." says Orlan. staging femininity literally as masquerade. harmony. she included in the exhibition vials containing samples of her liquefied flesh and blood drained off during the "body sculpting" part of the operations. she reads from Lucan's "Mirror Stage" and K~'steva's Powers of Horror. Orlan cracks the mirror." she tells me. Courtesy Orlan and Sandra Gering Gallery. gies. and collectors with whom she hoped to discuss her work. Orlan performs that equation with a Medusan vengeance. repetition. She recalls a New York dinner party for art dealers.66 I PErlFORHANCE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL I 67 figure 17 Orlan. traumas). an~ subJeCtl. with herself? ~s a panel participant with Orlan. She sheds one costume after another. As gruesome as all this sounds. photographing her bruised and bandaged face every day for forty-one days. (One of the defining traits of the fetish is its untranscended materiality. Rather than "playing" the passive patient. she no- need that all the women had the same nose! I In very presence simultaneously affronted and exposed their psychic and economic investments. they were suspicious of her. pitchfork. 1993. "Being a narcissist isn't easy when the question is not of loving your own image. fe~~le body? Why is every stage of women's art. particularly the women. She emphasizes the plasticity of her body as an aesthetic and technological medium. wholeness (with self and other) is imprinted on the mind's eye. New York. Orlan plays the ped. She documents each step of the process. particularly the. Suddenly. subjectivity is not only fractured. What is it about the body. These "relics" are marketed to raise funds for the remaining operations. its status as a material object. she asks. curators." Orlan herself is the "exquisite corpse.

" Orlan calls her work "carnal body art for the 1990S. which was particularly hypocritical. precipitated-in a strangely evacuated but somehow 'electric' space-according to certain definable procedures?"'! Orlan traveled to India to obtain enormous flashy billboards of the type used to advertise Indian films. Rue Victor Hugo. whereupon she leapt from her pedestal to kiss the customer. and a relic of an age that will soon seem long ago and far away. She is an expert in the hyperreal. As in the Post Human exhibition. She demonstrates that subjectivity does nor control the image. exposing the process-oriented." she destroys the neat divisions between male and female. Orlan wants to launch a cultural revolution against consumer society. outside and inside." His manifesto exhorts actors to create a spontaneous corporeal force between actor and the "shocked" neuromuscular responses of the spectator.. as well as streets named for famous men in other cities." The Viennese Actionists took up the historical legacy of Arraud. Chung could not disguise her revulsion. since she herself had gone under the knife years ago to make her eyes look more "Western. When she was interviewed by CBS's Connie Chung in 1993. Greenaway uses the Bcnerton image of a newborn to make the same poinr. A recent essay entitled "Television" asks whether television fundamentally determines our experience: "Is the television a- or the-dominant but unacknowledged epistemological model of subtectivityi Do we understand ourselves as presentational constructions. Orlan took the idea of using cast-off materials. It is in this sense that she develops a new rneraphorology. such as lying down in the streets of Paris and using her own body as a ruler to measure Rue Lamartine.68 / I'fRfOR~ANCE FOR THf TWENTY-fIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BfAUry SCHOOL I 69 relic in both senses of the word-a religious relic. Orlan improvised a series of absurd feminist spectacles. while commodifying the art and the artist. Her studio on Rue de Raspail (the celebrated scientist) is next to the asylum where Artaud died. moved by prefabricated. to which celebrities (and New York art dealers) so slavishly conform. The Situationists argued for a collective view of play." indeterminacy. instead the image shapes subjectivity. the saturation of reality by simulacra. play must invade life. She exposes the processes that doctors and patients go to such lengths to disavow. for . When Orlan calls herself the first "woman-to-woman transsexual." Orlan and Greenaway are trying (0 drive the same point home: subjectivity itself has undergone a profound transformation as a result of televisual technologies. ritualistic. Orlan shares their aim of transforming life through art.) When her metamorphosis is complete. preceded information. Many of these artists were represented in the Hots Limites show in Paris at the Pompidou Center in 1994-95.50 In the wake of Debord's Society of Spectacle. but Orlan uses her self-description with surgical precision. found objects as art. which she labeled "automatic kiss-vending object. so named because they became notorious for staging absurd "situations" that mocked both state power and the art establishment.4A From Marcel Duchamp. Nevertheless. Henry Flynt. an idea she takes to an extreme by using her own body as a "ready-made. a burlesque of the processes that idealize and objectify woman. a customer could watch the coin descend from her breasts to her crotch." Yves Klein also had a dramatic impact on her work. performative characteristics that characterized Body Art of the 1960s and 1970s. appropriately. and the unconscious. Like the Situationists. Joseph Beuys. Orlan's early art suggests the kind of agitation synonymous with Debord and the Situationists. because they have the kitschy look of I950S Hollywood posters. whether the image comes from Renaissance art or contemporary advertising. culture and nature." Other measuring actions related her body to a medieval convent and to the Guggenheim Museum. she grafts Brecht's theory of the alienation effect with Artaud's Theater of Cruelty. Just as her own body is a cadaure exquis. Artaud defined cruelty as the painful reorganization of (he theater and the urgent demand for a new type of corporeal speech: "We need above all a theater that wakes us up: nerves and heart. Orlan-a synthetic name for a synthetic identity-in-process-williet an advertising agency assign her a new name to go with her new "look. and Jean Dupuy) are also Orlan's precursors. and one of her staged facelifts was performed in homage to him. begins with Guy Debord." By inserting five francs. Le Baiser de l'Artiste featured a life-size photo of her torso transformed into a slot machine." Orlan merely takes to an extreme what Chung and many other celebrities take halfway . Her pilgrimage testifies to the lengths to which she will go to show how our self-images are cobbled from advertisements and films. an ambitious comprehensive retrospective from 1952 forward which. sensationalistic media coverage in both Europe and the United States consistently portrays Orlan as a freak. Yoko Ono. especially with their emphasis on "chance operations." The members of the art movement Fluxus (among them Valie Export. That litany of dismantled dichotomies is by now familiar. Orlan has nothing against plastic surgery per se. In 1977. (In The Physical Self. Her critique is directed against the regime of beauty it so rigidly enforces. Orlan points to a new concept of the self. She uses her petite body to "take their measure. ruled by metaphors not of depth hut of surface.

In The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. another mental disorder related to BDD. let me mention some of the important implications of her work for theorists of genre. an "imaginary signifier. If Flanagan is Sacher-Masoch. It is not a face but a gapSl_ not unlike the "black hole at the lower part of her face" that opens in Emma Bovary's corpse. and indirect discours fibre makes it impossible to determine how "we" are to interpret from that point forward. however." written in 1973 and published in Screen in 1975. Cinema is a screen much like the Lacanian mirror. in J 991. "n but the fact that Orlan uses multiple visual technologies onstage indicates that we are witnessing a paradigm shift in the making where spectatorship is concerned. she rolled her eyes as she told me how fixated the interviewers were on her relationships with her mother and father. and conclude that her surgery projects are indeed art. without having membership in a set. sequences. then the experts proceeded to turn her into one. With Greenaway and Deitch. Having traced Orlan's generic antecedents. exhibitionists. as clearly visible as in Cocreau's La Voix Humaine. It is judgmental and prescriptive. man projects voyeuristic or fetishistic mechanisms to circumvent the threat of castration." Orlan is never complere. Ballard's parodies of clinical psychiatric manuals in The Atrocity Exhibition." It is ironic that . prosecuted for its "outrage to public morals. generated from or driven by the insides of the body. No wonder the medical establishment weighed in on the "issue" of Orlan. Orlan who upsets the tranquil categories of gender and genre. she will not look like the Mona Lisa. the Borticelli Venus.70 I PUFORHANCE fOR tHE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN 8fAt/TY SCHOOL I 71 where the transsexual undergoes sex reassignment in order to be "complete. for instance. In this sense. off to the side.) Essays by psychologists. and suggests "that which takes place offstage." Only later did it become clear that by the end of the first chapter. It is important to remember that when Orlan's operations arc complete.P The whole point is to avoid perfection. the collective "we" who observe Charles Bovary's first day of school disappear. to conclude that the image is empty. The most important theory of spectarorship in the past twenty years is Laura Mul· vey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema."% Genre also has important implications for theories of spectatorship." Orlan illustrates Derrida 's theory of genre: the trait that enables one to determine genre does not appear in genre itself. not descriptive. The first implication is that however much a genre is deformed. point of view in the novel had changed forever. they arc creating not just performances for the twenty-first century. a tape cassette stands in for a letter. she argues that woman signifies castration. All of Mulvey'S work focuses on the deep structure of the Oedipus complex. G. Flaubert is perhaps the first to make "looking awry" part of narrative structure itself. even when radically altered by technology. The further dislocations produced by the constant photographing. traces of its roots remain visible. or the other paintingsinstead. a state that would fall within the psychiatric diagnosis of Depersonalization Disorder. A primary example is certainly Madame Bouary. Both are stoic comedians. Orlan is de Sade. First she parodied the genre of the psychiatric case study. Just as the epistle (according to Derrida) "is not a genre. hut all the generic characteristics of epistolarity remain intact. Parveen Adams calls Orlan "an image trapped in a woman's body. The same applies to Orlan's innovations: no one theory adequately explains her work. positiveness. displaying the corporeal self as an "atrocity museum. foreign. she perfectly embodies Derrida's definition of genre: "A sort of participation without belonging-a taking part in without being part of. which have sometimes been lost in translation. Iiterature itself." 1\ This sounds like one of ]. she will be a composite of them all. Adams is right. With Bob Flanagan. it tells us nothing. videotaping and filming of several 'before' and 'after' images can only lead to an extreme case of identity confusion. The idea of the "male gaze" that she introduced has become so widely dispersed across so many genres and media that it is worth revisiting some of Mulvey's original points. and artists explored the relationship of her work to psychopathology and aesthetics. unnatural. spewing out black liquid. The etymology of obscenity may derive from ob-scene.54 Not everyone agreed: as Tanya Augshurg notes. one expert finds in Orlan's work symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BOD): "Orlan has literally become 'detached' from her original body. (The strictly regimented dichotomy of options is revealing: sane or insane. critics." but it is Orlan who sets the trap. the persistence of fetishism and fascination. fixity. Orlan could not help but be amused by the Revue. and whether her work is art or not. but bodies. the Revue Scientifique et Culturelle de Sante Mentale devoted a special issue to the question of whether she is sane or mad. Orlan points to a newly emerging aesthetic. letters. alphabets. the new creation being something distant. aft or not-art. even though she reads theory during her performances. and blueprints are the signatures of all things they arc here to read. Following Freud." They interpret medicine's texts: codes. but all genres. but it comprehends nothing. The culture of experts has the technical lingo.

and found her wanting. Both isolate objects or events from their contexts in time and space in order to concentrate on a specific activity of quantified functions. revealing (and reveling in) the pornography of science. Mulvey wants people to recognize the political usefulness of psychoanalysis. editing). J. cinema builds the way she is to be looked at into the spectacle itself. Mulvey writes: "The presence of woman ." She is a "living doll" who plays with herself. Orlan reminds us that "the male gaze" does not spring from omnipotence but from fear: Man assuages his own fears of castration by projecting those fears onto woman. Fox.. along with her wit. dispersed across multiple genres. freeze the tlow of action in moments of erotic contemplation . in Orlan's work the male has no relevance. objectivity is hardly the aim. Going far beyond highlighting a woman's ro-be-looked-at-ness. Kruger.s? Second.s' Enter Orlan." the title of Mulvey's account of her arrest. for what Mulvey wants to destroy is the pleasure of passivity. for nothing could be further from Mulvey's mischief-making than Dworkin's grim censor- . Sprinkle. "62 Put another way. Mulvey wants cinema to cut out the cuts that make pleasure possible.) Like Mulvey. a leg stance. she inverts the "natural" order. The aim is to incite people to action-two actions in particular. If Schneernann. tends to . and Jacqueline Rose insisted on. Although some of the male theorists who criticized Mulvey denied that they desired or intended to do this to women. What do pornography and science have in common? Both "perverse implantations" rely on repetition and experimentation." She uses the word pleasure interchangeably with beauty: "It is said that analyzing pleasure.. By literally showing how the cuts are made.. was not sustained even by that section of the British Left which had originally argued for its importance. so we begin to dismantle them. Playing on the tension between film as controlling the dimension of time (editing. Mulvey might have invented her. many who took Mulvey to task for being "reductive or un-objective" failed to notice that the essay itself belongs to a very specific genre: it is a manifesto. for Orlan deliberately assembles and reassembles her own "spare parts. These are all traits pornography and science share with cinema. narrative) and film as controlling the dimension of space (changes in distance. "61 No more pleasure in seeing one part of a fragmented body. "I fight against God and DNA!" She also thwarts the pleasures of passivity-the final trait she shares with Mulvey.. As they tease us. an enticing cleavage.. First. it is almost impossible to remember the spirit of camaraderie that accompanied such high iinks. Today. Whereas Mulvey shows how the female star is filmed in such a way that maintains her position in relation to the male subject. That is the intention of this article. for the cuts to women are the unkindest cuts of all. Both murder to dissect. Ballard frankly confirms Mulvey'S hypothesis. and Rosen.72 I PUFORHANCE FOR TNE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL I 73 her essay has taken on a life of its own." As in the Futurist Manifesto and the Surrealist Manifesto. In so doing. The parts are interchangeable. As Rose points out. If Orlan had not existed..4 What Orlan wants to do is to trace the passage from Nature to Culture. Mulvey wants "to destroy pleasure. a set of mental mannequins that resemble Bellrner's obscene dolls. cinematic codes create a gaze. (The three nasty newspaper reviews I cited earlier. by Dovkants. and Orlan are four of the "cutups in beauty school" referred to in my title. which is what Orlan means when she proclaims.. They ignored its radical antiempiricist potential-the very potential Mulvey's manifesto exhorts us to recognize. because it is an argument about genre-narrative fiction film in classical Hollywood cinema. He clearly has Freud's theory of fetishism and the castration complex in mind when he confesses what the breast signifies: in Were [Mae West's] breasts too large? No . "1. with specific emphasis on film noir and Hitchcock: "The place of the look defines cinema . G. the commitment to psychoanalysis. thereby producing an illusion cut to the measure of desire. furthermore. Today. a blind spot for the British Left in the late I 960s and early 1970S. despite the publication of Lacan's essay and Althusser's famous article on Lacan New Left Review in 1968... Beyond our physical touch. it is more important than ever to remember: "The Spectacle Is Vulnerable. no paternity or divinity. each tried to suture Orlan into the regime of beauty. for "the male gaze" freezes the look on the erotic image. is often overlooked today. for she made a spectacle of herself by getting arrested for disrupting the Miss World beauty contest in London in 1970. The bodies of these extraordinary women form a kit of spare parts.. removing sections of a smile."s8 Furthermore.. turning her into an object of voyeurism and/or a fetish object. That is what makes Wendy Steiner's comparison of Mulvey to Andrea Dworkin so unjust in "The Literalism of the Left" (The Scandal of Pleasure). Mulvey is another one.. the breasts of these screen actresses incite our imaginations to explore and reshape [hem. a world and an object. with specific attention to the cuts along the way. a point in her essay which. Juliet Mitchell. and one that materialist feminists like Mulvey. destroys it. Orlan reverses the suturing process of ideological interpellation. no more pleasure in turning woman into "a cut-out or icon. or beauty. but they loomed across [he horizons of popular consciousness along with those of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.

. Much more worrisome is the feminist critique of aesthetic pleasure . and ultimately destructive of women ." Far from interpreting all art as "victim art. La Zambinella here achieves her final incarnation." Mulvey is a British materialist-feminist. but she withholds the plot. but the erasure of origins does too.with the po. or reveals her ultimate origin: the Madonna with Raised Eyes. which means the act of seeing oneself as others see you. Orlan clearly has Flauberr's novel Bouuard and Pecuchet in mind: the novel consists of a dictionary of received ideas. According to some feminists. Orlan's performances annotate the body of French literature. Mulvey merely analyzes them. like Orlan's.. When Zambinel1a's duplicity is revealed.. Not only does the act of cutting create anxiety. Barthes writes: "Derived from a complex pictorial code. the doctor who was . the experience of traditional art amounts to a seduction hy a beautiful object .." as Steiner claims. and what interests her most about Freud are his metaphors-hardly evidence of literalism. a major element in the Code of Pathos (Raphael. Orlan is her daughter. The slash in the title is the sign of castration.74 I PERFORHANCf FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CfNTURY ruTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL I 15 ship campaign. She thwarts passivity by shoving spectators' voyeurism down their throats. because while film theorists in recent years have devoted considerable attention to fantasy. she is a female Quixote. But the idea that one's most intimate emotions are mere copies can be traced back to La Rochefoucauld's Maxims: "Some people would never know love ifthey had not heard ittalked about" (# 136). Mulvey's critique invests the cinema . and-like Flaubert-an authorial point of view. not unlike Roland Barthes's 51Z. "giving birth" to man. while exhorting filmmakers to consider new strategies in avant-garde filmmaking. "~7 Barthes concludes that "nature copies the book. feminism. If Orlan is a model that cannot be copied." a motto that illuminates Orlan's motives for copying the old masters. Haubert duplicated the cliched language and emotions Emma Bovary borrowed from books (specifically from Lamartine and Victor Hugo}. she says. She is also challenging the patriarchal lineage from God the Father. as if to say. "Orlan" (a name reminiscent of the synthetic fabric Orion} refers to a personality composed from what Flaubert called its idees recues. Kruger also accosts the viewer with the word you: you are complicit in these systems of exchange. Mulvey explores the pleasures of passivity. (It is revealing that Steiner does not support her argument with a cinematic example. Pandora and others are disseminated over and over in films from Citizen Kan~ to Blue Velvet. She does not demand one. Your investments are both social and psychic. Let us now lie down in the streets named for famous men. a sculptor who falls in love with a beautiful opera singer named La Zambinella. Finally. Thus for many artists and theorists. Racine's Junie and Esther. more work remains to be done specifically on anxiety. erc. she has declared war on any image that can be construed as "subordinating women. "the beauty contest transforms a culture's anxiety about the contingency of its defining values into a spectacular reenactment and overcoming of that very anxiety. just as Fmma Bovary formed a self-image in her mind's eye compiled from Parisian couturiers' catalogues. who is eventually exposed as a castrate. the experience of art is necessarily pornographic. She gives new meaning to an "anatomy of criticism. To see art as enactment of a one-way power relation is adequate neither to women nor [0 art. This is an especially crucial point. she is also a copy that has no single origin.. Far from being a "fetish-buster. In forming her "Image-repertoire" from books. But she simultaneously refuses to "invest in the divinity of the masterpiece. As Michael Prince observes." she is fascinated by the logic of the fetish. "she" falls to her knees.). Orlan's performances demand a story. obsessively recorded by two maniacal copyists. Orlan also mimics Bouarysme. Mulvey is interested in the ways these master narratives of Oedipus. but instead cites Toni Morrison's Beloved. Far from taking freud literally.. Dworkin is a self-proclaimed "Tadical" feminist..:"er of a Freudian fetish. the raison d'erre. Dworkin's and Mulvey's leftism. arms outstretched. or cliches. is a magic realm of wishfulfillment in which male fears of castration are deflected onto a castrated woman . single "proper response" to her art. Orlan and Kruger both talk back to Charcot. Yet to Steiner. Kruger points to the aura that surrounds the unreproducible work of art and makes it priceless. The only way to control aesthetic pleasure for the dedicated fetish-buster is to destroy beauty. is directed at those who can conceive of art only as an economic investment. EI Greco. which cannibalizes Balzac's tale of Sarrasine.s Far from exhorting us to ban even the classics. Just as feminist extremists invest pornography with an extraordinary power over reality.." She cannibalizes the canon. eyes raised. 18). Her performances are forms of literary criticism.... sadistic. This is a powerful stereotype. Kruger's protest." to cite the words photographer Barbara Kruger slashes across her reproduction of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel (Fig. Hollywood cinema.. an early champion of popular culture. and intellectualism could not be more dissimilar. "~6 Those consoling transformations and values are precisely what first Mulvey and then Orlan thwart.

of the show. to dissect. Courtesy Mary Boo ne Gallery.r" If Sprinkle's performances are "hysterical" in the sense of being humorous. of perspectival impossibility presence of a vanishing whole could only be capthe reflecting surface of one of its designed frag- Figure 18 Barbara Kruger." Like Kruger's. The audience consisted of artists. 51'11 in. Collection: Don and Doris Fisher. x 681/~ in." which-like the posthuman-signifies how profoundly conceptual both gender and sex have become. . gays. the text acts as an interdiction. probably her heart. As Arthur and Marilouise Kroker explain in The Last Sex. New York. to appropriate. there is nothing left to steal. Photograph. Not for academics only. and transsexuals. Photograph. As usual in Kruger's work. In the artistic practice that of anamorphosis. Orlan's return us to the word's etymology. lesbians.76 / f'fRFORMANCE fOR THE TWENTY-FIRH CENTURY CUTUPS IN BEAUTY SCHOOL / 17 But the spectacle Orlan incites in the audience is by far the best part r first met Orlan at The Illustrated Woman conference in San Francisco in February] '. Collection: Museum of Modern Art. 19). San Francisco. they embodied what is becoming known as "the last sex. New York. a bar to signification. writers.194. Untitled (No Radio) (1988). that is. Freud's mentor and famous for parading female hysterics before his medical students in the amphitheater in his Paris hospital. New York. "modern primitives. Collectively. Courtesy Mary Boone Gallery. x 47 in." the piercing and tattoo crowd. "Don't bother breaking into me. intercepting the visual image. the privileged aesthetic space was The aesthetics. where the hint of the tured by a glance at of medieval times. in short. the leather community. as Kruger's Untitled (No Radio) illustrates (Fig. Figure 19 Barbara Kruger. as if to say. Orlan's work trains the spotlight on the drive to frame woman as a collection of symptoms and neuroses-to make a spectade of her body. Untitled (You invest in the divinity of the masterpiece) (1982). Medicine's regimes hystericize and cannibalize the female body throughout history. The doctor is holding one of the prone patient's internal organs. 73 in.

" nnlv 1 1.ll1:livs:1l1d find~ f:lllits with the analvst. Orlan is the "atrocity exhihirion ' who fulfills his prophecies.. Chrisriaan Barnard's heart rransplants: "A whole new kind of psychopathology. and so on.lt rhe ." Iike Boh F1"n1_g. ". "Have we. that we now Lall the perspectival worlJ of the 18<. hnta~i7in~ about seducing the "adnr:lhle surgeon" who Ibys her "awkward little penis.·s.l:ll!!: rcprese-irations of femininity in socially constrw. it h~'. The Oxford English Didio projection qr drawing of anything. . No wonder Sq many women artists are striving to make literal the metaphor of "looking inside": their aim is to dispel that myth.1gom r('pri'~t'nt. w(lrldly objerrs ill the painting. nrH' (Iolv ~ee~ :' blur.anee of emptying the image.1W. Although tl!'::ulv nIH :l ~ql1t'. Orlan is merely the obi. Her exhibitionism juxtaposes two temporalities and seems to challenge the audience: "I am here. post-make .11 j~ what "I1f' is sccing 1m the first time erer on I h~' /llwmorf.ue« tlw lIS('S of psychuanalyri« theory for ft'r!1lni~ll1. lets sin and death loose upon the world./msi5 screen hehind her.1' ing ' hdong~··· I 11.lhe audience.lsti~ S\lfW'I"V k·.1ti()n of fem:llr seductiveness and deceit. \XiI11'11 t.T. 'lisan Stryker. She is supremely $('ff-I)()sscssed-a delicious ironv. hl"l1 sef' that nothing hut my desire brings him here.m when he speculared Oil <111 the new technologies that . (jlle spps :1 l-lur nr :~ skull. ('11""1"11)" video sen'{'n" hehind her show the opern tu rn in prmT<..HI·.. It is not that surgery bas transformed her. l c..llyur. a male-to-female transsexual.woman tr:1ns~exual. Hard to like a woman like rhar." Laura Mulvey notes.. or by renee rion from a suitable mirror./Josls as ":1 distorted defines the Mirror ~tage. she becomes the center of the universe.t is he· I or . The space r which h. The reclIP·'ng d!visioll between itlSlCh' and outside i~ central not only to lIJIdent:m. which becomes synonymous with seductiveness and deceit: a beautiful exterior conceals a pernicious interior.1te~. by reports of the Barnard hea:t transplants.lmish crowd... when (lilt' conccutr ates on th . di .'4 The Pandora myth posits that femininity is a trap and a mask.ltcly···-vit'. I hf q:lIHI. adequ:~tely performed our role :1~ inql1i"i'()r~ hv demanding sign~ of your suffering. 1\b11Y accused her of sensa tionahsrn and a!!. The gap between the two images empties out the object.'· S nary defines .1 IIV qlhv(.lIldll"TKt' ~rn:1 l1('d .1. the new awareness of our own bodies transmitted bv magazine accounts of popular medicine.COITl phl.wdience perceives as Orlan's aggression. so made that when viewed from . but that surgery has changed our experience of the image.. Now that 1 have <. one member of the ..:! of tran<. It is savagely inconvenient.'?" Orlan smirked. 111..rtillg thl' ~m\lg.ollle" . d'·:lf. Nnw anamorphosis rt'ttJrn~ ~~ the rrivilege.. I orchestrated the entire event. read her memoir nbout her operation.. '''l.l ddormMion.111 was hostile.1\'I:rr" to sce.is deTllonstr. But it is the space which is new from the point of view of knowledge.lid "f .1in. (hlwr~ .11 'iPX. Of course this is only nne in . the most radical surgical procedures were Dr.:1ion to wh.. But in rcalitv. it IS the ." Another leshian :lrti~t photographed the lesbians in the leather L:()rt11T1I1Tlitv who W{'tT IllHlcrgoing female to male trnnsst-xual 01' ernrion .-" At the San Fr. It is thar IIf'W "t'xual horizon. their response to Or 1.. (( llll' sign that the transference is :~I" readv' working i~ when tlw .1 partinlbr point.·' (hu: bmiHl.." Slw "skcd (hhlll. Hallard had rhe same space and the same setting in mind during the earl" r 9. depf'llding on (. for <llWHlOfphi .~ IN IlfAUry SCHOOl I 79 inc lit S.radil. "beneath" the mask..Hlt! ~"'~t-fe11l~lr. hut when nne looks ng.:tf'~j· Ianrnsv..).l1um1ort..phk~1 dirnension to this philnt~~"'. In "Pandora: Topographies of the Mask and Curiosity...md rroperlv propnrtipfl(.. televised violence.n("S point (If view or=--morc .tTIl this hostilitv reenadt'd on two coasts.:C'll"Y of the good hour gcois owners of the objet t"... . "get it.I1(t' seemed t .:je\ving..l\·(' ·111 {'110rllliHis g:~p where a picture of "d. "Why is cock a thing and vulva a place?" Pandora is the site of that split between outside and inside.In'll''ed her of maligning the medical professiol1 (merelv h" f'xri)~illg it~ /.. it appears rq~\lhn ..tivt' of vir uf imers('x ~t. female sexualiry IS a box that..t t'x..m.(rnnted v ·ith the graphic video images. The stor\' of Pandora's creation installs her as a mythic origin of the surf~cels('crc·t polarity \h~t !!:ivt'~ a spatial or tnrogr8. since what she is doing is emptying the sci f..!" \~'hiie ~h(' lec!llrl's <l11"ngr' with the . once opened.."" If Ballard is the oracle. 1 realize that it is a re.wessinl1. vi~ihlt' proof pf V(1l1r «rigll11t.78 ! PfHOIIHAHlF. CI1..II Tiff TWFHTY·FHI:H cemusv CUrlJP. I did that. when Ilift my hips tn rneer the k nife .nd "hefoH'" ~lT1d "nfrer ' photos used Ii) advertise pl.S.Judienu" who i~ projecting aggression.lI1LiscoC'Hlktt'I1... hut ~Isn iilusrr.. everyone capitulated to my will-from the la h rechnicians to the surgeon to the well-wishers around the globe.terenl'('. bll cllled herself the first "woman-to.1T1d 10]1Iknl . the book of a new Krafft-Ebing is being written by such things as car crashes.d: .I rranslaror and someone who <igns for tht..:rsopened is radical and has always been there.1lIglwd. As Parvecn Adams points out: "The succession of the moments of anamorphosis are presented simultaneously. ()l1e must "look . vould necessitate the wriri ng of a new Psvchopathology Vaily Litp• hut <11 the rime.Ih()l')! Finally.1 ~kt1l1..1 v. ('xJlllple is I lans Holbein's Ami1assado1"s: in the fnH'ground. revealing that there is norhilll<. Schneemanu's question again comes to mind: Vulva asks.H('S rhat there nre two mnnwllts 01 . rhc .! l'rr~re.

Orlan strips it of mystique. and Orlan turn it inside out." di~q'Ct ing the culru res deep. Sprinkle.. exposing the [ears of ulstration that underwrite misogynistic fantasies.1111 phirhearer is our s. Mulvey. the topo~rarhy l"f1 . which slH' set''' as our epoch's religion. "J don't hel ieve in interiority..." pharrnacists re . And "mlnst:mding the "dt~kl"ti(' of inside and outvide " i~ a possihle point of l-'H'~l' Irll~t departure."At till... the final nit: Orlan opens herself up and finds nothing. In so doing." By sei7. The medical . to tr~ll~form til!' work (If crnicivm IIllll . in various ways Schneemann.. ~II five WOTTWl1 are "cut UP" in beauty school._'s and psychoanalysis. hence their hostility. ln different ways." Orlan replied. .HlJor:l is an important rille for deciphermg the Ianravy.< That is the point of departure .so I PHlfOftfolAl{fF FOil Tiff rWfNTV·'1ftH CENTURY of the kind f]f l'fnhkTTlI'''<rd hy the P~ndorill'hcl1omellon t har h'nlac~tht'tlc~ ha~ turned to 'f'mioti. and nX<liiom.ing control of the medical apparatus. showing s how (he scalrt'l gOt'~ in M the temple and comes our at the neck."l(rf'd sanrtuarv. 1 began this (h. Orlan is Frankenstein. Orlan desacralizes our (lIItIlTC'S investment in medicine. something else Barrhes once sa id now resonates wil h :ldded significance: "The Image always has the last word. hut found nothing:T~Therein lies the true scandal. Fin:'111y. Fetishes." (I think again of Madame Bouary.eived hy all five of the women 1 have dis(tl~~ed in this chapter.. "he invokes another epistolary classic.. Mary never lost the uncanny conviction that she had been horn of dying parts. Monsieur Canivet . the monster. omeone asked: "Is the point of pif'rt'ing the skin. Sinn' Mary Shelley'S mother died giving birth to her." i\ 1on)!. Rather than sealing the lid on Pandora's box. I'. quest. wnrk 1)f decipherment . Marv Shelley's Franhenstein.. and the Bride of Franken stein all rolled intn 011(..seared economic and psychic investments ill wr)1Tl~n'" "to-be-Iook ed-at-ness. 111 view of the new medical imaging devices th:H arc transforming nrnsti« practices. Kruger. to get to the hottom of interiority?" "No. . performed an autopsy. with Hob FhJl<lg~n.1 prer with the quotation from Flaubert to illustrate that the myth of the inviolate body has heen a long time dying. That is what elicited anxiety '~Hl!lng(hlan's San Francisco audience.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful