A weekend being Seduced

Not quite The Kiss

Morceaux choisis d’aprés Rodin
Marcel Duchamp

Original by Rodin here

This past weekend, I can say I had myself a proper weekend. Hoorah.

After another long week at work I met up with Leia Ewok Village for our inaugural meeting of 2008; a rather chilly rum tonic and lime was followed with prawns and dumplings and ginger chicken udon, all of which was washed down with half a bottle of pink wine.

We talked about the usual cavalcade of stuff we rant about- Work, society, men, relationships, shoes, underwear; I asked whether i’m an embarrassing drunk… A sign of a firm friend is that you can talk about the same old shit you usually talk about but that it never gets old- You can just pick up where you left off. I am supremely glad to have such people in my life.

I must make headway on my resolution to get out more and actually put on some stupid shoes and go out.

Saturday I sucessfully managed to navigate Tube stupidity to rendezvous with Bobby Convey. We went to Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now at the Barbican, managing to spend over two hours perusing the erotica on show.

Some of my favourite pieces were a Roman wind chime made of a flying penis, an early photograph displayed as precious work in a velvet-lined case by Robert Crawshay, Thomas Ruff’s blurred, enlarged porn jpegs, Juliao Sarmento and his negative space porn, funny drawings and dubious spattered substances and finally gorgeous NSFW Japanese shunga.

I was particularly enamoured with the shunga- I loved peering at the beautifully drawn lines and delicate blushes that made up the highly detailed genitals of the lovers shown… the madly arranged pubic hair… the voyeurs… the nests of vibrant textiles everyone luxuriated in… the cloths strewn aplenty to catch the bodily fluids that gushed from the men and women alike. Also, they had NSFW The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, which i’ve always found peculiarly fascinating. Tentacle porn. Woo.

The undoubted highlight of the exhibition was Nan Goldin’s fifteen-minute slideshow Heartbeat. I’ve seen Goldin’s hooker/transvestite/addict/battered work before but the intimacy and beauty shown in the collection of slides was a revelation. I sat and welled up as the images faded in and out of existence; the accompanying soundtrack of Bjork singing Prayer of the Heart by John Tavener was incredibly beautiful when combined with the images of everyday intimacies.

As Bobby eloquently puts it “the gentle chaos, intimacy and lack of egotism that form a truer passion and love.”

In situ soundtrack (complete with coughs and slides flicking over)

Each set of images would begin with a view into the everyday life of the couples involved, the day-to-day interaction, their kids, nights out etc. before following them into the more intimate side of their lives- A kiss… the warmth of skin against skin… wiry hair brushing against stomachs, arms encircling necks as they hold on for dear life because their world might just end at that very moment of passion… the ectatic point of release… then the aftermath, with rumpled bedsheets and knocked-over books, gentle exhausted caresses and showers for two.

Of the art I have seen in my twenty-seven years it ranks up there. It was that good. I found it so affecting yes, because of the beauty of the images and the soundtrack but mainly because of the subject shown- People living, people honest and comfortable with each other, people in love. It was a visual representation of the things in a relationship that ground it, that are important be they big or small, the moments where you can just “be” with someone else and not have a care in the world because they are lying beside you.

I would compare the beauty shown to the feeling I get when someone I am intimate with is hovering between wakefulness and slumber and pulls me close in this semi-conscious state to kiss the back of my neck. Nothing compares. It’s a feeling of unbridled joy that is a reflex- I can’t help myself… My smile fills my entire face and I feel intense happiness, excitement and comfort all in the one and same fleeting moment.

I miss such moments. They are deeply important to me even if they only last a few seconds; they are imprinted into my brain, engrained into the skin on the palms of my hands, the back of my neck, my chest, my stomach, my bones.

This ache for comfort lies heavily in the soreness of my back and the hot constriction of my throat when sobbing; after trust foolishly given is broken it crushes my chest and strips the breath from my lungs. To live in the golden light of the photographs…

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