[-empyre-] Starting the First Week / Valente and Ziyalan

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Thu Nov 3 00:54:54 AEDT 2016

Thank you, Renate.  Yes, isn't the US being threatened as we speak with a
potential President who assumes that all women make themselves sexually
available to him?  Don't images, especially sexual ones, have complex
discursive structures that we must continually grapple with? Speaking of
Mapplethorpe, didn't we learn from the many Mapplethorpe controversies
that images read differently to different publics?  Remember the
objections of Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer that Mapplethorpe's "Black
Book" failed to account for the potential fetishization of the male black
body?  We must not take these issues lightly or merely smooth out
resistance to particular sets of imagery as representing conservative
prudishness in the face of some kind of unfiltered utopian desire.  As
Renate points out, we have spent years on -empyre- and elsewhere
reflecting on sexualities in much more complicated ways than this, and, I
might add for all of my male interlocutors on -empyre-, that we shouldn't
always need to rely on our female colleagues to point this out.

I recognize that Peter is trying to find a space outside politics and
where sexual pleasure is not "reduced" to fit some contemporary theory.
But isn't this precisely Donald Trump's response to his misogyny?

Looking forward to a more political layering of this conversation, even
when I recognize that this might run against the grain of a desire for
some kinds of utopian thought.



Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Taylor Family Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
A D White House
Cornell University,
Ithaca, New York 14853

On 11/2/16 9:12 AM, "Renate Terese Ferro" <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:

>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>As an artist and a feminist I am puzzled by the lack of acknowledgment
>here that there has been years of historical discussion and theorizing
>about the male gaze, scopophilia, and the whole canon of gender,
>sexuality and visual theory that has put characterizations such as this
>to rest I thought.
> R
>On 11/2/16, 7:11 AM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
>behalf of Peter Valente" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
>behalf of p.valente.film at gmail.com> wrote:
>>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>Murat, I was just trying to designate a space outside politics where
>>sexual pleasure is not codified or politicized or reduced to fit some
>>contemporary theory. Perhaps this remains an ideal, especially in
>>anglophone countries. In the case of photographers like Gatewood or
>>Mapplethorpe, whose work can be extreme i.e. potentially obscene to
>>certain groups, it seems like political factions struggle to confine
>>it, find a language for it, and failing that, instead reject it
>>completely. That was the case with Mapplethorpe. I think, with regard
>>to my own photos, the image of a woman who makes herself sexually
>>available, i.e. a woman comfortable with her sexuality, is still a
>>very provocative image in the U.S.
>>On Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 2:03 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Alan, are you not assuming the photos are all of women though many
>>>are? There is at least one among these where the figure is a man. Also,
>>>I understand these are pictures from a much longer series. The photos
>>>reminded me of selfies also, I think because they are not voyeuristic.
>>>They are intimate. The photographer seems somehow to be in front of the
>>>lens also sharing the experience.
>>> Peter, could you elaborate more why in an extreme world pleasure needs
>>>no defence?
>>> Ciao,
>>> Murat
>>> On Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 8:20 PM, Peter Valente
>>><p.valente.film at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> Hi Alan,
>>>> I have no problem with 'selfies.' Of course, my own photos are not
>>>> 'selfties' since no one in the photos took pictures of themselves. I
>>>> photographed all of them. But I can imagine ways in which 'selfies'
>>>> can be used to make interesting images. And I can't remember his name,
>>>> but a filmmaker shot an entire film on a smartphone and it won some
>>>> award in Berlin. I shot an entire film with the camera focused on
>>>> myself.
>>>> I don't think my images are 'pornographic.' And there's an interesting
>>>> writer I'm translating, Guillaume Dustan, whose extreme depictions of
>>>> sex acts and drug use are without explanation, or defense, or
>>>> rationalization. Edmund White's blurb on one of Dustan's books:
>>>> "...the book features a narrator whose wants are to fuck, listen to
>>>> house music and visit London. 'Let the Good Times Roll' is the motto
>>>> of this ecstatic celebration of a way of life unaffected by the
>>>> demands of safe sex and queer politics."
>>>> Why only women? I found the images interesting. The nudes happen to be
>>>> of women. But admittedly my photos exist in a kind of extreme world,
>>>> you might even call it an ideal space, where pleasure is never
>>>> political and needs no defense.
>>>> Thanks for the questions, Alan.
>>>> Peter
>>>> On Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 6:11 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
>>>> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > Hi Peter, I have a couple of questions. What do you 'think about'
>>>> > And do you see the pornographic images as a doubling in a sense,
>>>>and why
>>>> > women only? This isn't a critical query; I'm really curious.
>>>> >
>>>> > Thanks for the description and images, Alan
>>>> >
>>>> > On Tue, 1 Nov 2016, Peter Valente wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > ==
>>>> > email archive http://sondheim.rupamsunyata.org/
>>>> > web http://www.alansondheim.org / cell 718-813-3285
>>>> > music: http://www.espdisk.com/alansondheim/
>>>> > current text http://www.alansondheim.org/ug.txt
>>>> > ==
>>>> >
>>>> > _______________________________________________
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