Hans BellmerStudies for Georges Bataille’s L’histoire de l’oeil (1946)

Beyond a generalized outline and the Freudian psychoanalytic babble about the more unsettling aspects of his work–erotomania, pedophilia, etc.–my gut feeling is that the majority of art historians really get Bellmer all wrong.

It’s a bit too facile to call him a perverted pedophile–I won’t argue that his work doesn’t support these claim but only pursuing it to the point of dismissing him for his proclivities is perhaps cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face. (Especially when you realize that almost all of his work that incites cries of pedophilia was a response to the cult of the perfect body in Germany circa the 1930s.)

The thing I think it’s important to keep in mind is how Bellmer repeatedly situated his work to stand firmly in a position counter to authoritarianism.

I find the Freudian analyses of him and his work even more frustrating–with their insistence on interpreting surrealist images as coded subconscious projections, i.e. Bellmer was a repressed homosexual (at that I have to question whether the person making that claim has ever even really looked at his work in more than a cursory fashion, he’s very much obsessed with female sexuality in a way that no gay man I know is…)

There’s talk of oedipal anxieties and fear of castration–and while both fit into the anti-authoritarian locus of his work, I read things differently. I feel a sort of shared experience with Bellmer–an overarching sadness at AMAB status and a sort of erotomania as the only perceived means of recovering some of the experience of what it might be to experience sexual awakening in a manner suiting your actual gender identity.

I feel like so much of Bellmer’s work is actually more literally anti-authoritarian than most people realize–because it channels a frustration with authoritarianism where your experience is limited by being born into the wrong body.

Further, non-consensual interactions are the bread and butter of both authoritarianism and pedophilia. I don’t know for sure that Bellmer had his head entirely screwed on straight in this regard–but I can’t see that he wouldn’t have been unaware of it. And while the stories of him hiring young girls to pose provocatively for him are unsettling, I’m reasonably sure that the resulting images would most likely be to unsettling to serve as pornographic material and I think that fact is crucial in understanding Bellmer and his work.

On a slightly different note, given the ascendancy of Drumpf in my own country, I think Bellmer is an artist not only due an in depth re-evaluation but who also has a great deal to offer on the subject of how art should strive to fight fascism. (If there are an gallerists reading this: Ana Mendieta is another artist who needs a major retrospective stat.) 

k.flight – [←] in the back of the bus (2008); [↑] we thank you for the spirits that dwell in us and all things (2008); [→] P1080259 (2011); [↓] good morning (2008)

I don’t know what to say.

I’m just… I mean… fuck me, whoever k.flight is, she has a perfectly, omnivorous eye. I didn’t know it was possible to be in love with images but, well, yeah… learn something new every day.

Not to sound like a twitter tween but this, this right here is fucking everything.

Absolutely perfect.

Go ahead and do whatever you want with what’s left of me. And also, if someone knows who k.flight is I would do anything, and I mean ANYTHING for the opportunity to collaborate with her at some future date.