November 3, 2015

What Would Jennifer Do? Nr. 1: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Christina Kubisch, o.T. / untitled (Hommage to Charlotte Moorman), 1976

Since the art opening at insitu’s Jonny and my luminous idea to create the female version of Jerry Saltz’ erotic art Instagram, a trigger went off and everything I’ve seen since then is highly sensual. I can’t even think of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain anymore without seeing that hole down below and the female curves of its basin. Is that sick? Every book I picked up at the Walter König bookstore of Hamburger Bahnhof was somehow about sex. I came upon Paul Chan’s poem Oh Girl. I’m fine. Sleepy that’s all (2008), and let me just pick out for you his moans: “mmf”, “ahhh”, “mmm”, “mmm mmm”, “ulp”, “mmm sssh hmm mmn”, “mhn hmm”, “mmm”. As a hardcore Andy Warhol fan I’d never heard about his book Blue Movie, but there it was, at the bookstore, talking about the penises of Greek statues: “Viva: Have you ever seen a Greek statue without- Louis: With a hard-on? Viva: Why did they all have hard-ons? Louis: Because it was considered -comic. Viva: Really? Louis: Sure. In the Greek theater when the guys came out with hard-ons everybody used to laugh. (Viva laughs.) They used to get’ em, too. They used to come out and it was called a joke. If you get a hard-on. There’s nothing funnier than to see a man walking with a hard-on... (Viva laughs.) back and forth.... and everybody used to laugh.” 

Blue Movie by Andy Warhol

The week continued like this. I’d never been to SomoS at Kottbusser Damm Berlin, but coincidentally passing by I decided to hop in, right at the moment that a performance of the Porn Film Festival was taking place in the basement. It was packed and I couldn’t enter, but still, sex was in the air. In the exhibition upstairs titled Fixation, Andy Warhol greeted me again, now with a poster of Flesh (1968) displaying Joe Dallesandro’s six pack. Meanwhile, on the subway through the city, I continued to read intensively Grace Jones’ memoir, talking about how she was cracking the whip at the disco, “bodies on bodies, some of them so close they were penetrating each other, lubricated by their own sweat” and the music was like “the sound of sex, foreplay to orgasm, first kiss to the little death.”

Fixation at SomoS, Berlin

On Friday the sensual week climaxed when visiting two shows. The first one was at Buchmann Box. My transatlantic friend, the artist Jennifer Danos, who moved from Berlin to the US a few months ago, recommended me to go, since one of her favorite artists was exhibiting: Wolfgang Laib. I went together with our common friend, the artist Akane Kimbara. And while Akane was chattering with gallerist Michael Schültze about a Japanese award that Laib had won, comparable to the Nobel Prize, I looked at these minimal sculptures in beeswax accompanied by a small heap of yellow floral grains, and all I could imagine was the humming of the bees’ unbridled sexual energy. In the press release I read words like “purity” and “untouchability”, which made me think that the writer of it must have been suppressing something. 

Wolfgang Laib at Buchmann Box, Foto: Roman März, Courtesy Buchmann Galerie 

At night I visited Rumpsti Pumpsti, a record shop and an exhibition space, where 1970s vibrators were happily vibrating together with flutes in a composition of Christina Kubisch. Apparently vibrators are one more thing that progress screwed up by adding pink colors and rabbit ears. The ones from the 1970s were aesthetic in their minimalism, but apparently hard to acquire back then, so the artist told us: you had to order them straight from the company. 

Akane, also a blogger, and I decided to share our posts on our gallery hopping as a “What Would Jennifer Do” series. When we’re on the road together, Jennifer is always on our mind. So what would Jennifer say of me putting her name in a title that also contains the word “sex”? “All of the stuff I love revolves around the breath”, Jennifer once told me, and this week I can only interpret that statement  in a sexual way. So I think she will be fine. Here below is Akane’s blog post in Japanese. As I can’t read Japanese, I don’t know what it says. That only heightens the mystery, and, as you might already guess, also this comes across as highly erotic to me... 


アンも書いているとおり、共通の友人ジェニファーが今年の夏アメリカへ帰ってしまい、彼女がWolfgang Laibの情報を『これ、私も見に行きたいっ!』とメールしてきたのがきっかけで見に行くことに。ちょうど展覧会がはじまった時期に、彼が高松宮殿下記念世界文化賞を受賞したので、私も興味をもってたところ。ギャラリーの人がこの賞はアートのノーベル賞みたいなものと言ってたけど、そうなのかな?たしかに名誉ある賞だけど、残念ながら知名度はノーベル賞ほどいき渡ってないような気がする。とにかく、賞うんぬん関係なく素晴らしい展覧会でした。

彼の作品は、蜜蝋でできたオブジェと小さく山盛りされてるヘーゼルナッツの花粉。蜜蝋1kg分には約15万匹の働きバチが拘っているらしいし、花粉も一年間で小さな瓶一本分しか集まらないとのこと。ミツバチとWolfgang Laibの地道な作業の集積がここにあり、どちらも命あるものの、”生きる”痕跡が見え、静かだけどずっしり手応えのある深~い作品。

ジェニファーが、この作家の作品を好きなのはよく分かるし見たかったんだろうなぁと、二人ともその場にいない彼女に思いを馳せちょっとメランコリーになってたかも。アンの今回のブログタイトルが、”What Would Jennifer Do? Let's talk about sex, baby!”だけど、私とジェニファーがLaibのことを語るんだったら、”What Would Jennifer Do? Let's talk about eternity, baby!”かな?うふ、やっぱり尼さんだわ。



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