Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Some Say Porn, Some Say Erotica


"Erotica. (noun) literature or art dealing with sexual love."
"Pornography. (noun) obscene literature, art, or photography, esp. that having little or no artistic merit."

I quote this dictionary -the one I've had in my studio since 1969. It is unabridged, the Random House Dictionary of English Language copyrighted as early as 1966. Mine was the 1969 edition.

Art galleries and art museums shun the 'P' word-use the 'E' word sparingly, if at all. They must have read this dictionary -and others published since. Maybe their definitions are the result of taking some kind a consensus as to what their colloquial meanings, their usages are. But as an artist, I've had to disrespectfully take a different tack, disagree as to what is art and what is obscene and pornographical.

What do linguists know about art as 'Art', or 'love' and 'sexual love' and whether having sex with or without love, its depiction, representation is or not 'obscene', pornographic? How metaphysical as to the meaning connecting to a referent has their thinking gone? How have they substantiated it? Investigated it?
Dunno.

They called Alfred Kinsey (who did investigate,) his published work was called obscene.

Oh well.

Even pornographers can respectfully disagree as to the degree in which 'Erotica' can nudge 'Pornography' and vice versa.
You do get Erotical Pornography in a lot of fashion magazines: i.e., what I would consider as a bit soft-'pornish'.


And how can you just say flat out "Obscene" when what is perceived by people vary so? Varies from one person to the next, one neighbor to the next, one Democrat to the next, one Republican, and so on. I can go on and cite differences among Orthodox Jews among themselves, Reform Jews among themselves, Hassidics etc. -as to what is and is not....

My art has been about this from the beginning. Making art and my being an artist, in my house was utterly taboo, impermissible, undesirable. ' So I had not far to travel when I ran away from home to ask myself: Can my art be 'Art' with a capital 'A' if it is about 'the impermissible', 'the taboo'? Making it about my horniness was most definitely not 'ART'!

'Sexuality' (not romantic sexuality), but about sex as sex and not especially about what my parents and family called love was at the crux of it. And it was not about anything I'd show in art school. My teachers wouldn't have thought I was heading in the right direction.

What makes it 'Artistic?' Disregarding the subject matter, WAS my work 'Artistic?' As Hamlet once spoke it, "that is the question!"

Maybe there is a lot of art out there in gallery and museum land that started out being regarded as a bit 'controversial' -was at one time or another not acceptable.... The people in charge didn't quite see it as realio-trulio being what they called artistic. Well not in the way they allowed themselves to accept it. And as I recall from my art appreciation text books, it happened sort of that kind of way. They had this Salon de Refuses in Paris back in the late 1800s and the very top guys whose works are today at the Met couldn't get their works shown. Had to exhibit their works at the Salon de Refuses -meaning more or less in this 'roomful of the rejected' stuff no one would recognize asl art.

And so I think to myself, even when my porn gets to be a bit OK, just a teensy bit artish, maybe even a bit less porn, I'll get me a show, be reviewed. Will anyone own up to it, admit that his was art-at-times-being-'porn' when it was? I dunno.

If they were to use any word at all it would have to be 'erotica'. Ha Ha. That would be missing the point entirely.

Recently there was this gallery in Chelsea showed this celebrity artist naked and in coitus...A self portrait him and his latest sweetie (or maybe it was his wife) posed like statues in this arcadian garden setting. They use the 'E' word for this... even when any damned fool looking at it can see it isn't made for us not to without some snickering.

I kid you not. Not 'kidding'. I'm said to be far too humorless to have done this 'Art-As-Porn)' for these so many years (since the late sixties) were I not 'serious'.


More later. Much 'later', or maybe 'sooner'. It is how I define those words.

2 Comments:

Blogger Lazy Geisha said...

Norman,

I have always applauded artists who push the boundaries and who seek to redefine conventional wisdom. All aspects of our sexuality are tied directly to our humanity. There is no such thing as abnormal (with the one caveat of adults having sex with children, which is criminal), but consensual activity between adults, no matter what form or shape it takes, is normal, healthy, and should be embraced.

An old quote which I cannot remember the source says, "... the difference between erotic art and pornography is lighting..."

Perhaps that should be redefined to say the only difference between art and porn is perception. Far too many of us are completely closed off from our own erotic cores that we waste our lives denying ourselves the simple pleasure of induldging our deepest desires.

Lovely post sweetheart,

xoxo,
nina

December 7, 2006 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Norman said...

Thank you, Nina.

As you see from the title of my site, I will be patching together assorted musings as to the phenomena (or I should say "GENRE) known as Porn.

The porn as collected lets say at the KINSEY INSTITUTE in Bloomington Indiana comprises what I believe is a documentation as to the history of porn art and erotica ... one that enciphers what we have yet to fully perceive and appreciate as a body of evidence. What it has to say about us as homo sapiens... not just here in Manhattan or in "THE WESTERN WORLD?, but in all cultures on this planet.

I believe we must learn how to decode this evidence, get down to the DNA of its significances and portents ... What it says as to the Whos we have been and are ..... And what IF ANY is our destiny.

More, later.

Thank you for commenting.

Norman

December 7, 2006 at 6:10 PM  

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