[-empyre-] sex death love - on AGEING
ruthcatlow at gmail.com
Sun Sep 29 01:08:22 AEST 2019
I'd like to thank you all, and especially Annie, for your writing in this
I remember in 2010 when Annie wrote about menopause and sexuality. I was
struck by her anger that no-one ever told her/us that it might be that way.
The anger alerted me to something very important.
It hadn't occurred to me then that my aging body-chemistry could
permanently change the way it feels to be alive, and in relation to other
people...which it does.
And that if it could, that it might open up whole new dimensions of
relating and resonating with the world, whilst leaving behind others. It
It also hadn't really dawned on me how much of my place in the world was
made out of something like sexuality, and therefore narrated and shaped by
a mess of political social construction.
This is a very difficult topic to be open about on a personal
level...another layer of the machinery of patriarchy that determines
women's identity and role in relation to the institution of the family
(rehearsing an old Christian line here I know) - of women's best destiny
lying along the continuum of innocent girl, through sexual creature and
nurturing mother, to kind grandmother, to scary crone - with sexuality
confined to sexual creature and mother segment. To step off this line is
still to invite blame, shame and harm in so many many places.
And as with many feminist questions, much of the delicate work of
confronting and rewriting the given narrative to match a living experience
that breaks oppressive and unjust constraints, has to be done first, in
private, to avoid exposing and betraying the personal trust of our closest
friends and lovers. Our shared experiences cannot automatically be used as
subject for public examination.
So I read this thread as a wonderful use of the extended zone of trust
created by this 'soft skinned space'. I am deeply appreciative of the
courage and directness of this conversation.
On Sat, Sep 28, 2019 at 1:01 PM Annie Abrahams <bram.org at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi Sandy,
> I'm sorry if I gave that impression, but your remarks were so full of
> enthusiasm and positivity that I needed another take on it. I think you
> understand that.
> Your remark triggered something in me that I tried to analyze and write
> into existence.
> That is not easy.
> I am still thinking about starting a short research that tries to talk
> about sex and ageing. Take a month to see and read all I can, to do some
> interviews and record what I find on a website. Trying to scetch a very
> divers map of the "territory". I feel an urge, but is it enough .... is it
> Would others be interested? and how should I approach such a thing to let
> it be important to others?
> Cheering back
> On Sat, Sep 28, 2019 at 5:28 AM Allucquere Rosanne Stone <
> allucquere.stone at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Annie,
>> I'm not sure if you were claiming that my remarks, insofar as they
>> touched on sex, confirmed "mainstream" ideas. Perhaps what I wrote could
>> have been read that way, but only if you don't know me very well. :-)
>> Annie Abrahams wrote on 9/27/19 4:18 AM:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Dear all,
>> When McKenzie asked about ageing and Sandy answered I felt unease. I
>> thought my own experience not relevant for the context and so I didn't
>> react. Also I needed some distance to check my feelings and to see if this
>> wasn't an only personal issue. So I wrote Shu Lea and talked with friends.
>> Thanks Shu Lea for inviting me to try to express myself.
>> My reaction is not about “us” older people – we find our ways - it is for
>> the younger ones (as the 18 year old McKenzie) so they will have a more
>> diverse image of what might come. Sexuality in old age and ageing in
>> general are subjects that are not treated seriously. Ageing can be hard and
>> we should be openly talking about it in detail. Ageing is also beautiful,
>> yes, but not only ….
>> We all have our own stories, our own way of dealing, enjoying and
>> mourning about it.
>> After rereading Sandy's reaction to McKenzie I saw she was more subtile
>> than I first thought, so why was I angry? Probably because hers was the
>> only reaction to McKenzie's question and it was confirming “main stream”
>> ideas I see too often in popular media.
>> “Sex after 60 is still good - it's impossibility is a myth - there are
>> simple solutions for vaginal dryness and erection and ejaculation problems
>> - but you need to take care, to keep it going, to learn how to keep it up
>> ….. “.
>> Why should I do that? Why?
>> For me it feels as if I would have to conform to an unwritten rule. Sex
>> is about penetration …..
>> Is it?
>> Not for me, at least not anymore. There is something “fake” about
>> suggesting it is. We need diversity in the discourse. There should be more
>> stories …
>> Life didn't go on as before and media shouldn't pretend it should /
>> could. It doesn't! And we shouldn't punish ourselves with “false” ideas.
>> For me life became easier - I am now 65. Getting older means going to the
>> important things, not being bothered anymore, but still, I am confronted
>> almost daily with thoughts and things not possible anymore. I doubt what is
>> normal and what not, I resist, I give way. I fear the loneliness coming - I
>> choose not to have children.
>> Sexuality for me is affection, tenderness and bodily sensations and that
>> can still be terrific (great and terrifying at the same time), but it is
>> completely different from the hormone influenced frenzy, athletic activity
>> it was before. So why call it still sex?
>> Something of what I feel might be visible in a 3 min video performance I
>> did with Martina Ruhsam in 2015. "*besides, Dear Body*" was a Turbulence
>> commission. You can see the archive https://vimeo.com/131117890. I wrote
>> about the performance afterwards:
>> “*It felt as if we created a continuum in difference and made a
>> statement that said „don’t worry, this is life“. I wanted it to be a gift.
>> There was a big shock when I looked at the recording of the performance,
>> when I looked at my naked body. I see this body every day in a mirror, but
>> the video image is not the same as a mirror image – there was no head, no
>> action going on, just the body to look at. It took time to overcome my
>> personal aversion to my own ageing body, to accept the breathing image, to
>> accept its reality, to let the video live as an independent object showing
>> ageing, a tender connexion, and a crack.*”
>> Ageing is related to "death" another "taboo" subject - too intimate to
>> talk about? In “*besides, moved by some thing.*” also a turbulence
>> commissions with Martina Ruhsam we talked about death and dying.
>> https://vimeo.com/131117872 (49 min)
>> "*When facing death or illness all the accumulated knowledge surrounding
>> these issues is displaced by experiences that can hardly be shared. Can
>> liminal experiences be communicated verbally?*"
>> After this we had several private online conversation sessions with 6
>> women on the subject. Then we stopped ... technology was not easy for all,
>> connexion sometimes bad and life brought us elsewhere. For some time I have
>> been thinking about starting a "death café" in Montpellier (
>> https://deathcafe.com ) but ....
>> Unfinished, ongoing...
>> merci thanks dank
>> On Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 7:46 AM Shu Lea Cheang <shulea at earthlink.net>
>>> dear empyre-ers
>>> The September month on -empyre- doesnt seem to be ending, so many
>>> threads to follow up...
>>> Let me recall some moments -
>>> McKenzie Wark ever so inncocently – 11/09/2019 post
>>> *So Sandy: can you tell me a it about ageing? I just turned 58 and am
>>> already a middle aged woman...*
>>> Allucquere Rosanne Stone ever so cheerfully – 12/09/2019 post
>>> *I can only tell you about aging from a personal perspective. So ok,
>>> I’m, what, 82, 83, something? I write, code, make stuff, and raise hell,
>>> active in several professional fields, sex is terrific…if anything, it gets
>>> better with time. This isn’t a tell-all, so I’ll leave it at that. I
>>> don’t hike, climb, or snowboard as much as I did, but I’m beginning to
>>> think that’s psychological. Anyway, if it’s words of encouragement you
>>> want, you can have all I’ve got, and I’ve got plenty. I’m fully aware that
>>> my view is not a universal one, and I can’t speak for trans* folk who find
>>> aging hard. But from this admittedly limited perspective, in this
>>> particular embodiment, I intend to keep on adventuring, theorizing, and
>>> making love with the throttle pushed up to 110% until my body simply
>>> explodes. I invite you to join me.*
>>> Annie Abrahams asked to bring back these topics - sex death love and
>>> · *"**Annie Abrahams: The belief that, after menopause, sexual
>>> intercourse goes on as before is mistaken. At least it didn’t for me. This
>>> made me really angry for some time, as nobody had warned me! It felt very
>>> lonely. I think that the sexual life of post-menopausal women is still very
>>> much a taboo subject that people shun away from.*"
>>> For these last few days of September as leaves yet to fall off the
>>> branches, I like to introduce Annie Abrahams, also bring in Miha
>>> Colner, the curator who’s been preparing an exhibition *On Ageing at *MGLC
>>> – International Centre of Graphic Arts (Ljublijan, Slovania).
>>> Annie Abrahams is a Dutch artist living in France. She has a M2 in
>>> biology from the University of Utrecht and a MA2 from the Academy of Fine
>>> Arts of Arnhem. In her work she questions the possibilities and limits of
>>> communication, specifically investigating its modes under networked
>>> conditions. Using video and performance as well as the internet, she
>>> develops what she calls an aesthetics of attention and trust, in which
>>> human behaviour is the main material. She is known worldwide for her netart
>>> and is an internationally regarded pioneer of networked performance art and
>>> collective writing.
>>> Full cv bio (336 Ko) https://www.bram.org/info/aabrahams_cvbio_eng.pdf
>>> 2.3 Mo 20 pages with images - book
>>> Miha Colner(1978) is an art historian who works as a curator at MGLC -
>>> International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana. He is also active as a
>>> publicist, specialised in photography, printmaking, artists’ moving image
>>> and various forms of (new) media art. Since 2005 he has been a contributor
>>> of newspapers, magazines, specialist publications, and his personal blog,
>>> as well as part-time lecturer. He lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
>>> Let's see how this run, maybe try to smoke Sandy out of cave and get
>>> warkk to bring in some techno beats!
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