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Clayton Cubitt

Talk Dirty To Me

31 Artists Talk Dirty to Larissa Goldston at her Gallery in New York.

Some artists shy away from confronting our animal instincts by addressing them only indirectly. But Larissa Goldston takes a more direct approach. She has seduced 31 artists into contributing to Talk Dirty to Me, a show at her self-named gallery in New York. Goldston describes the show as “focusing on pieces that feature sexual language and imagery. Exploring not only the semiotics of desire, but also the exceedingly diverse and highlypersonal interpretations of such works.” “The show includes salacious pieces by John Currin, Tracey Emin, Richard Phillips, Paul McCarthy, Lisa Yuskavage and Bruce Nauman. Three hot young artists also share the show's spotlight.

Orly Genger
At first, the intense physical activity Orly Genger undertakes in order to produce her massive scale hand-knitted sculptures appears athletic and exhaustive, but hardly erotic. However, the New York-based artist’s Mr. Softy sculpture uses sex as an inticing metaphor for the overwhelming tension artists in all mediums feel as they wrestle their work into shape. Initially presented at Connecticut’s Aldrich Museum, Genger’s sculpture consists of thousands of feet of nylon climbing rope, which Genger knitted into a map stretching from the Museum's historic "Old Hundred" building to the recently opened new Museum facility. For a performance enacted at the Aldrich and presented as a video here, Genger dons climbing gear and crawls under her sculpture to the sounds of the Mr. Softy ice-cream truck and her own over-heated moans. As she fights with the heft of her own work pressing on her, the aggressive relationship between her body and her art takes on the intensity of “angry sex”.

The saccharine sweet connotations of the Mr. Softy ice-cream jingle evokes the tragic compromise women often make when lust and longing lead them into unfulfilling relationships with stifling and morally flaccid partners.

Clayton Cubitt

Clayton Cubitt's beautiful body of pornographic photographs contrast the juices, complications and irrepressible sensations of raw, dirty sex with an arrestingly controlled and sleek sense of style. Yet the aesthetic purity of the New Orleans-born and Brooklyn-based photographer’s portrait of a girl’s smooth, alabaster vagina framed by a matching coloured antique frame did not disarm a group of censors. The image from Cubitt’s Cream series included in Talk Dirty to Me had been deleted from his friend’s blog This Heart’s On Fire by the site’s advertising affiliates at Glam Media. Cubitt's response to the controversy that engendered was as plainspoken as his image:

“Pussies are baroque. Billions of years of evolution resulted in this amazing work of sculptural art. A flesh masterpiece, reproduced billions of times yet each one is unique. They are the Ecstacy of St Theresa in fertile skin. As the text exclaims, 'I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness tomake him experience it who may think that I am lying.'

"Which makes me wonder why should this shrine to ecstasy, and the source of all life, be a forbidden image? When approached to participate in 'Talk Dirty To Me,' I knew this was the piece I wanted to include. The show was about how work dealing with sexual imagery provokes reaction not based on the work itself, but on the baggage the viewer brings to it. And even before the show opened the image I submitted caused a little stir for some outlets who had published it online, causing them to lose 'family friendly' advertisers. I wonder, since all families come from or include vaginas, why are vaginas so frightening to those who consider themselves 'family friendly?'”

Alex McQuilkin

“The most common question I get asked about Fucked, explains Alex McQuilkin with exasperation, “is, ‘Are you really getting fucked?’ Fucked is a video about missing the forest for the trees.” The video’s action might have blinded some to its more celebrial implications, but it did alert the New York art community to McQuilkin. While still an NYU undergraduate, McQuilkin’s DVD, produced in an edition of nine, sold out at the booth of New York’s Modern Culture, Inc. at the 2002 Armory Show in New York and was arguably the most talked about work on view. In the three-minute DVD, the then-19-year-old artist’s face and shoulders are pressed close to the camera as she struggles to apply make-up while apparently being aggressively fucked from behind. In a 2004 catalogue essay accompanying Like a Virgin, a group show organised by artist Andrea Cooper at Canada’s Eastern Edge gallery, Cooper equates the video's nihilistic excess with theorist Rebecca Schneider’s concept of women as "commodity dreamgirls."

As Cooper writes, "the dreamgirl promises sexual fulfillment, but as an icon or symbol, she cannot deliver; she is forever recreating the lust to buy again, in the hope of attaining fulfillment." In contrast, McQuilkin offers another perspective. “Fucked was made from the point of view of someone who knows that's what she's doing and keeps doing it anyway - Image absorbs everything, experience is a lost, feeling bad turns to feeling nothing... And no - I'm not really getting fucked."

Talk Dirty To Me at the Larissa Goldston gallery until March 28th.