By Kerstin Mey

Particular fabric is extra greatly to be had within the net age than ever earlier than, but the concept that of "obscenity" is still as tricky to pin down because it is to technique with no bias: notions of what's "obscene" shift with societies' moving mores, and our responses to specific or nerve-racking fabric could be hugely subjective. during this clever and delicate e-book, Kerstin Mey grapples with the paintings of 20th century artists practicing on the edges of acceptability, from Hans Bellmer via to Nobuyoshi Araki, from Robert Mapplethorpe to Annie Sprinkle, and from Hermann Nitsch to Paul McCarthy. Mey refuses sweeping statements and "kneejerk" responses, arguing with dexterity that a few works, despite their "high art" context, stay deeply complex, whereas others are either groundbreaking and freeing. <u></u>

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In Schneemann’s work the female body is magnified as a site of cultural representation. In fact, it becomes the pictorial carrier and image at once. Snakes sliding over her naked skin, and symbolic body painting in Eye/Body (1963) make explicit references to a (pro-)creative, productive female sexuality drawing on the tradition of the representation of earth and fertility goddesses. 8 The Vienna Actionism and Günther Brus’ symbolic self-endangering Body-Analyses used the human body as primary aesthetic material visualise to drastically the destruction and real and looming catastrophes of their contemporary society.

It asserts in the final analysis that only a body in possession of a penis is capable of signifying and therefore reinforces genderspecific notions of creativity and men’s cultural and social power. 15 The Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta (1948–1985), who developed her practice in the USA, centred the negotiation of her diasporic identity on her body as creative material and agent. In 1972, she undertook a Facial Hair Transplant, gluing male facial hair above her upper lip. The act returns Acconci’s enacted male/female conversion, whilst at the same time confidentially referring to Marcel Duchamp’s bearded Mona Lisa – LHOOQ – image of 1919.

The visualisation and aesthetic manipulation of authentic transvestites in Molinier’s photomontages and photo-retouches theatricalised his own life experiences and functioned as a negotiation of the social prejudices attached to ambiguous sexuality and the effeminate male. His work, alongside the explorations of Urs Lüthi or Jürgen Klauke during the 1960s and 1970s, was situated within an increasing spectacularisation of society. The public display (and deliberate performance) of people’s life practices was delicately embedded in the nexus of visibility and political empowerment, the promotion of diverse cultural experience, individual ‘unmasking’ as well as, increasingly, calculating (media) exploitation.

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