Barbara NitkeBathroom Kiss from Kiss of Fire series (1995)

I have mixed feelings about Nitke.

Besides her stated aim of “find[ing] the humanity in marginal sex,” her work all features a clinically dispassionate eye.

This allows the viewer to bear witness to an awkwardly tender moment such as above. Her presentation of action as jarring, motion blur and off-kilter compositions have become endemic in the work of image makers interested in both fine art and BDSM documentation (I’m thinking here specifically of Aeric Meredith-Goujon and his ilk.)

What irks me is the insistence upon conceptual layering for the pornographic to receive art world credibility. It’s almost like for something to be deemed Capital-A Art, the pornographic has to be somehow mediated and/or commented upon by the work.

Let me give you an example: I’m beginning to consider (with some level of seriousness) pursuing a PhD in Art History. What I am interested in is studying the dichotomy between Art and Porn throughout history and then insofar as it can be reconciled suggest transgressive art as an art historical current seeking to point toward a synthesis between these two allegedly opposite poles.

Invariably when I’m talking to academics–trying to sort potential recommendations, seeking advice w/r/t receptive/non-prudish programs–invariably people ask me why I’m so interested in Jeff Koons or throw Noam Chomsky at me.

I detest Koons. And my favorite incident in Miriam Elia’s indispensible We Go To The Gallery relates to Koons–it’s the perfect take down of his vacuous work but it also serves as a damning critique of why the ‘art world’ tolerated his’ short-lived foray into porn with his Italian porn star partner.

(As far as Chomsky goes, I’m not even going to address it because people far more eloquent than I’ll ever be have already pointed out how it’s bullshit to code switch from critiquing capitalism to a feminist perspective without acknowledging the overarching shift in context. Chomsky’s is allowed to find porn distasteful; he’s not allowed to use his status as a notable (white, cishet male) Academic to attribute unassailable factual status to his own poorly considered concern fapping.)

I guess my point is simply: the subject of Art is inherently relateable to the human experience. Sexuality (or asexuality) is a facet of the human experience. Therefore it is well within the purview of Art to consider it.

I object to the pretense of bending the work into conceptual pretzel shapes to earn a distinct of being meritorious. I want more de Sades, Bellmers and Batailles; fewer Gaspar Noés.

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