NATURE MORTE - SEHNSUCHT nr1
ARTWORK
Grossformat und Mittelformat, Bildgr÷sse 120x160cm, 70x100cm, 50x60cm, K÷ln 2007/2008

"Of dummies and poetic exciters - Bianca Patricia’s

re-enchantment of gender" Text by Claudia Fischer 

 

 Some things are seldomly visible, even though they are available in abundance. Their subterranean rivers of permanent supply and quiet demand flow in great volume and unnoticed. The market of often elaborately manufactured genital substitutes is just such a market of abundance. Container loads of strange plastic dildos and multifunctional abdomens that “feel real” are sent all over the world. 

   Bianca Patricia has pulled a few boxes of mail order goods out of these rivers and arranged the bizarre objects to form irritating still lifes. The photographs which were thus created both show the viewer and conceal the photographed objects before him. He is quickly pulled into the images’ subtle desire to display, which picture – visually hyperreal – vessel-like, solitary and sparse arrangements of different single objects, irritating potpourris made up of sex gadgets and genitalia as well as Mannerist assemblies of sumptuous piles of fruit.    

   What appears aesthetically pleasing to the eye at first glance seems disturbingly beautiful already on the first meta level. Having surfaced out of the smutty and dim light of generalized and generalizable eroticism, the sex toys now appear ethereal, delicate and fragile. They radiate a subtle coolness and quiet melancholy, which tends more toward highlighting the unfulfilled and unfulfillable about them, rather than the blazing arousal with which the manufacturers advertise them. The pale torsi, phalli and other equipment lie next to eachother without a history and in silence – just as the lonely fucking-unfucked sex with the substitutional objects, which must be artificially brought up to body temperature, is without history and silent.        

   Even so, these compositions seem rather delicate and elegiac as peculiar “poetic exciters”. Photography as a medium and mode of transport of such an effect, typically masks the entire haptic and olfactoric level of association, without which the objects do not work as generators of desire. The imagined or indeed real pornographic film which usually accompanies the handling of genital surrogates remains oddly lifeless or indeed even becomes impossible. Interestingly, the photos are still better able to capture the underlying feeling created by touching the objects than real contact is able to convey. The astonishment and curiosity with which one initially fondles these bizarre replicas of real genitalia are simply too great. The lingering impression made by the lifeless and cold materials, the sweet smell of silicone and the pale colours, is one of subtle necrophilia and the vague feeling that one has been dealing with the perfumed undead: with lifeless vampires constantly wanting to be fucked, who drink sperm instead of blood and who never fuck back.

   The imitations of phalli on the other hand seem more like futuristic tools seperated from their original context of physicality and masculinity and are made to provide the autonomous satisfaction of several female needs at once. They are design objects, kitchen utensils and of course substitutional phalli all in one and thus make ideal equipment to supplement the autonomy of jaded metropolitan Amazons. Whereas the ancient Amazons were certainly not  averse to maleness in their warlike and sororal community, modern metropolitan Amazons – as depicted in the group picture in Cologne’s high court – often simply resort to fighting eachother with the cut of cocks of their fathers, brothers and bygone or current lovers. As a hyperreal or bizarre plastic device the male phallus no longer reminds one of the gushing blood or the piercing pain of the emasculation of men, by means of which the scene could probe the depths of mythology, but instead degrades the erect penis to the ridiculous gadget of a few angry women. The studied posturing of a self-sufficient and excessive form of female self-display shows that the phalli and the staged anger of the women on the Amazon picture no longer have a related but instead a referential character. Today’s Amazons have abolished maleness (with all of it’s attributes) as a real exterior reference and now fill the irritating holes of occasional loneliness with plastic surrogates that are always hard. Such internalization and the robbing of maleness can only go unpunished as long as the Amazon community is sworn to unanimity and no male interest group objects in the name of emancipation. But as soon as the mental hardening brought about by artificial constant penetration becomes unbearably painful, the modern Amazons regurgitate their synthetic helpers and attack eachother with these ideologically charged truncheons: in their negligees and hoping that some steadfast knight who still has a cock will see them and find them irresistable.

   Such an “immediate” meeting of the sexes is of course, despite converse conditioning, the collectively murmured fantasy mantra. At the same time, presumably few societies have fallen so deeply into the chasm between medial glorification of desire on the one hand, and a real celebration of autistic desire on the other, as our’s has. 

   Neither the emasculation of men and the aseptic sensual handling by women of the disconnected phallus, nor the flight of men before vengeful and lustless women into equally lustless but at least not unpredictable silicone cavities, refer any longer to the mythological dimension  of the relationship between the sexes, which always recognised, conveyed and transformed cruelty, indifference and incompatibility between the sexes.

   Today the abolition of patriarchy unfortunately often also entails the abolition of maleness and many of the men disposed of in this way experience women in the flesh as erotic vampires, since they do want the male energy of desire, but are then unable to deal with it. This inability to deal with men anymore is maybe also one of the main reasons for women’s retreat from relatedness to maleness toward more self-involved attempts at autarchy. With this in mind, the brisk handling of the aseptic phallus surrogates or the flight into body orifices that “feel real” seems like a practicable strategy for gaining satisfaction. A sad one though – as a tough or shaky run into ahistoricity. That is where men and women are presently stuck. But what does “ahistoricity” mean with regard to this relationship of the sexes?

   In his film “The pervert’s guide to cinema” Slavoj Zizek says that whereas the real always needs a trace of fiction in order to be real, pornography builds on the real without fiction or any hint of a meta level and he then goes on to discuss the difference between what the ancient Greeks called civilized or barbaric. Morality is not important with regard to this distinction, but rather the ability to move through this world as a zoon logon echon, a creature able to speak and use its communicative skills in order to lead a life that is self-acting and successful. Or not. Particularly in connection with erotic personification the Greeks used a wide spectrum of productions, stories, rituals and institutions which celebrated or subdued the both invigorating and destructive power of Eros. The unleashed Eros was always a part of or indeed the climax of a large production which celebrated him as a god or a demon and placed him within a mythology that reflected, exalted and accompanied the whole of life. Particularly the male phallus was a central symbol for the unleashed Eros and was also – for example at the Dionysian festive ceremonies – carried through the city as a giant sculpture. Even Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was created out of the (cut off) phallus of her father. Whatever this may mean for Eros and beauty is an almost inexhaustible question which continues to generate interest. It is certain however that in ancient Greece Eros, beauty and ritual festivity were related in an original way which was also communicated via the symbolic power of genitalia. This was intended as a form of dramatic visualization and never as a mere reproduction.   

   This tradition is revived by Bianca Patricia as her images speak out on the speechlessness of the tough reality typical of the genre. Originally intended as fetishes of ahistoricity and as the ideal partners for media-stimulated porno sex, in the hands of Bianca Patricia the porno dolls and sex utensils become keys which achieve a reconnection with history.                  

   The mixed compositions made up of spooky true-to-life sex dummies for men and the aggressively manufactured artificiality of women’s toys symbolically tell the story of a creeping alienation and objectification of real circumstances which is barely reminiscent of eroticism being or having been something that lives off encounters and reciprocity.

   Bianca Patricia’s photographs address in an impartial way the pain of men created by the retreat and loss of women and women’s rude awakening concerning the fact that the ambivalence between total appropriation and total rejection of male potency does not lead to complete fulfilment but rather to the subtle offender-victim experience of robbery of genitalia which is devoid of resonance and driven by privation. The possibilities for interpreting the pictures are too great for them to have to or to be able to deliver any final answers. Maybe these dolls and dummies really are “emblems of passive humanity” and objects which “do not need to be spared”, as Theodor Däubner writes already at the beginning of this century, emblems which communicate the ruthlessnes of human “as-if” relationships in analogous manner. “Nature morte – Sehnsucht” is not just a collection of symbols of function and longing which reflect our collectively practiced fiction of love, sexuality, happiness, fulfilment and desire, but also a withdrawal from vindictiveness and escapism in a move toward recognition and display of circumstances. When seen in this light, Bianca Patricia is initiating the transformation of women from Erinyes to Eumenides with her photographs and is thus taking a stand for the urgent emancipation of men toward a relationship with themselves that “feels real” and the ability to discern between Eumenides and Erinyes with a view to furthering happiness in their lives. 

 

(as Hans Bellmer also called his libertine dolls in the first half of the 20th century

from: Puppen, Körper, Automaten - Phantasmen der Moderne, Eds. Pia Müller-Tamm und Katherina Sykora, Cologne 1999, p.259)