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Magazine

21 August 2017
Archive: Eloy Fernández Porta or the non Unitary Subject

A*DESK

… Manel Clot talks in his text about “the loss of analytical and situational capacities, a fact that at times hovers above what we could call the multiplied and intensified scene of contemporary art practices (immersed on the other hand, in accelerated processes of techno-cultural reconfiguration and productive and spatial relocation). Perhaps we ought to recuperate that experience of the political subject in postmodernity proposed by Chantal Mouffe, “a subject constructed at the point of intersection between the multiplicity of subject positions”, [1], and as such not a unitary subject, and apply it to the construction and confection of the relational map in which to develop, with a certain multiplicity of gazes, the respective practices and mutual interactions of the artist and the text of the critic.” And inevitably a text springs to mind (there could be more) by a unique author, bearer of the cut-up in his DNA, a master of cultural zigzags (not just in relation to referents, but also in different strata and levels of culture) and transversality, capable of coordinating a workshop about emotions at A*DESK and sitting below the participants, author of various essays and a couple of books as well as various collaborations with A*DESK, always within the framework (or through it) of an inter-sectioned, almost multiple, subjectivity.

Reference text

 

X EX ÈXODE is a micro-fiction for the spoken word. It was conceived in 2011, with the title “En todas partes”, within the framework of the project Afterpop Fernández & Fernández, that I realised with the writer Agustín Fernández Mallo [2], and incorporated in the set Personificación, in which we alternate different texts that revolve around the technological, semiotic and corporate construction of the identity, combining cultural critique, poetry and gender theory. The text was presented on other occasions as the collective show Anti-Sant Valentí, that Álex Brahim, José Antonio Delgado and I, organised in 2014 at the CCCB. In which around thirty people participated during three hours, reading, singing or representing comic or aberrant versions of the genre of amorous declarations.

Exodus International is the leading company in the market of sexual reorientation. The profile of their client is Christian, suburban and with limited schooling. Coming from Texas, Denver and Boston, hundreds of believers make the pilgrimage to their headquarters under the burden of guilt and trappings of faith [3]. Courses. Campus. Testimonies of recuperated manhood. Comprehensive therapists and redeemed lesbians usher the flock towards the light. This pathway, and not the other, leads to the enjoyment that is beautiful in the eyes of the Lord [4].

Cell 19 is a command for direct action inspired in the feminist guerrillas that flourished in Boston at the end of the sixties [5]. One of its members infiltrated the Exodus, passing as a repentant lesbian. Once her curative process had been completed she requested to enter the order and prospered until she became a monitor’s assistant. He, in turn redeemed, endeavoured to become interested in her [6]. One night he invited her to supper, where she laced his steak with a light drug. The next morning she entered the classroom and took charge of the group. “Today”, she said, “aversion therapy”. [7].

Perfect Circle is a video-blog specialised in a singular paraphilia. All of the videos follow the same pattern. Eight, nude people stand, one behind the other, to form a circle. Each one of them applies their lips to the sphincter of their predecessor and, at an agreed signal, urinates, in coordination, offering and receiving at the same time, creating an interrupted flow. The perfect urinary Circle, that has to last two minutes, according to the Sadian precept (“maintain order” [8]) and the surfer’s protocol: make your video and post it. .

God is Everywhere is a hyper-blog where internet users refer to the unequivocal signs of the existence of God. Amongst the most read posts of this month stand out: a Marian apparition, the vivid dream of an Andalusian pastor and the twenty-third commentary on the already notorious video by the producer Cell19 “Exodus Ex-Ex-Dykes Piss Outing” [9] written on the wall of Perfect Circle, where a user, identified as I’mInControl, calls our attention to a passage in the film: “01:37: The expression of the brunette with the curls as she captures on her tongue the drop that slips away, down the buttock, brought to my memory an unforgettable moment of the martyrdom of Saint Barbara” [10].

 

[1] Chantal Mouffe, El retorno de lo político. Paidós. Barcelona, 1999.

[2] Afterpop Fernández & Fernández @ Kosmpolis (CCCB) http://www.cccb.org/es/multimedia/v… En todas partes, min. 23.30-28.00

[3] Between 1976 and 2013 Exodus was one of the few North American companies that enjoyed an almost total monopoly, which made it possible for them to address, the majority of their potential consumers, from their headquarters in Orlando (Florida). The severe anti-monopoly laws that govern commercial trading in the United States were in their case never applied. Even though it was highly visible and generated enormous profits, the market of sexual re-assignation, understood as a section of the Market of Affective Mediation, has not been recognised as a business activity and has ended up in a nebulous territory between therapeutic practices, charity activities and scouting with a cause.

[4] The campus of gender reaffirmation in natural spaces was the main procedure for corporate bio-political socialisation that was combined with pseudo-psychological therapies and the publication of para-scientific literature. Its direct predecessor is the society of the Boy Scouts, that in its founding documents, written in 1910 in the locality of Irving (Texas), proclaimed the need for “countering the maternal influence and feminisation of masculinity” through a programme of regulated outdoor activities. These processes of retreating to the country and reconnection with one’s own body (supposedly ‘lost’ in the godless debauchery of the metropolis) have their origin in the latter third of the 19th century. In them are combined three elements of fin de siècle North American culture: naturalism of a Romantic base, turned into literature and embodied by Henry David Thoreau, the crisis of masculinity generated by the growth of the suffragette movements and the virile culture of gymnastics British inspiration.

[5] This fictional militia is inspired in the cultural guerrilla Cell 16, a group of female liberation that was created, between Boston and Chicago, under the inspiration of Valerie Solanas and her SCUM Manifesto, that saw the light in 1967. Between the following year and its dissolution in 1973 the cell developed street actions of resistance and gender disturbance that included the use of military costume. Its founder, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, who had been an activist against the Vietnam War, transferred some of the guerrilla tactics to the group’s praxis, carrying out in this way the transition between a pacifist feminism of Beauvoirian inspiration and a style of revolutionary vindication based on direct action

[6] “I’m very curious to see what Gabrielle Bell does with the SCUM Manifesto” are the words of Michelle Obama herself. The outgoing First Lady pronounced these words in a speech at the Sarah Lawrence University shortly after it was filtered onto the Internet that Bell, a cartoonist specialised in graphic self-fiction, was preparing an adaptation of the theory of Solanas. The author herself explains it in her volume of memoirs The Voyeurs (2012), where she referred to how, amidst the hubbub of a cultural event, after one too many glasses, she fantasised out loud about this possibility…and the next day the comic blogosphere was blazing with speculations and suppositions about the book’s arrival. Anxious in the face of such expectation, unexpectedly bored by the manifesto – “ each time I picked it up I was left stone cold”-, Bell ended up calling her mother, who had known the author in New York in the sixties and was convinced she’d seen a most unlikely version of the book in an X-rated cinema in Tokyo. The development of this anecdote is a perfect allegory for the Solanas problem, with all its elements, in contemporary creation; the denotative value of the book as pure proto-punk radicality, the difficulty of “translating” her theses to the language of current feminism (the adaptation never ends up being realised), its oral and performative, more than conceptual, effectiveness. What Bell ends up doing is talk of it in a public address. A route also followed by the singer-songwriter Lynda Hoyle, with her cabaret style Hymn to Valerie Solanas (1971) and around the same time as Bell was working on her project, by the Italian artist, Chiara Fumai in her theatrical talk CF Reads Valerie Solanas. In the mother-child relation, which is one of the main themes of Bell’s work, the reference to the SCUM Manifesto functions as a mediator that makes it possible to negotiate the generational transition, verbalise the respective difficulties of the couple and express a series of emotions, from the range of immoral feelings, aroused by some amorous relations with men. These affects are defined in such a way that the misandry of Solanas (“ the Y gene, masculinity, is an incomplete female X gene”) appears as an error someone needed to commit: an extremity of feeling or the North Pole of sentimentality ends up useful to orient oneself in more benign latitudes and to map habitual terrains.

[7] A local case inspired the writing of this text: that of the Policlínica Tibidabo in Barcelona, that in June 2010 was denounced for their ‘curational’ practices, clearly inspired in the example of Exodus. In the debate related to it Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida officiated as the devil’s advocate, defending the “right of gays to stop being gay” in his article “The Generalitat and homosexuality”. In the Barometer of the CIS published in April that same year the leader of UDC appeared as the highest rated politician in Spain. It is worth remembering that the parliamentary members of Unió had voted against the Law of Universal Marriage of 30 June 2005, and in February 2007 supported, with their votes, the PP’s failed parliamentary initiative to revoke that law.

[8] “A desire for systematization typical of the encyclopaedic approach” as Antonio Monegal indicated in his study Sade pedagogo that introduces the most recent Spanish edition of Philosophy in the Bedroom (Austral, 2016). The taxonomic classification of sexual practices –the hot side of the Illustration – finds its contemporary version in the detailed classification of tastes, attractions and fixations that organise the consumption of pornographies in the digital world, defining a cyber-world that is structurally Sadean by definition and occasionally sadistic to boot.

[9] The figure of the gay “who becomes cured” in the first instance to a posteriori “succumb again” and who ends up abandoning the sect – and, with it, the pathological idea of its orientations- configured a new bio-political subject: the ex ex gay or survivor of re-assignation theory, whose case zero was the pastor Günter Baum. This configuration of identity under the sign of a double ex would end up confirming the thesis that, since Freudianism until queer theory, has described the public modelling of heterosexual masculinities as a process founded in the originating negation of those roles and attitudes that constitute the alterity of “man” or his heterodoxy. From this perspective, the anachronistic medicalization of sexual orientation and its modulation in hyper-social praxis (in support groups) and individuals (in the self-help manuals) can be understood as a para-scientific or a-scientific shift of this foundational denialism.

[10] With the dissolution of Exodus in 2013 the text lost its links to the present-day, which led me to change the performative routine of the recitals, presenting it, in some cases, with clarifications such as those I have included here and on other occasions, doing without. But unfortunately, the story has stopped being just a curious document of the recent brutality. Since the end of last year, the medicalising doctrine has experimented an unexpected resurgence in Spain, featuring the ultra-catholic group HazteOir. During the month of November, HazteOir distributed in colleges across the country a total of 100.000 counter-informative leaflets full of serious warnings against the “gender indoctrination” in the primary phase of the educational system.

This use of agitation and propaganda strategies on the part of the extreme right seems to respond to the perception of the very marginality of the group, its programme, in a country that, according to the study of the PEW Research Center of 2013, has the lowest index of homophobia in the world. This a piece of data which the right-wing press has given as little prominence to as that of the left, because it’s convenient for both, for different reasons, to ignore or overlook that Spain is where this serious problem has a more or less accentuated gravity. Here there is also another form of denialism, in the notorious difficulty of assuming the ex-homophobic character of a country, and accepting that, despite all that has passed, reorientation –phobias, are always present –can arise in the lapse of two generations.

For the duration of the third week of January, HazteOir convened a “training day” about changing sexual orientation, that was disseminated with full-page advertisements in nationwide newspapers. The act was directed by Richard Cohen, author of the libel Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Curing Homosexuality and director of the International Healing Foundation, that was born in 1990 as timid competition for Exodus and today has become the benchmark within the market.

A*DESK, Independent Institute of Criticism and Contemporary Art, is dedicated to learning, publishing and research related to the criticism of contemporary art. Taking the view that critical thought makes individuals free, its mission is to defend actively the importance of criticism: to generate debate about contemporary art, to enable each individual to establish their own opinion and by doing so promote culture.

Articles

21 August 2017

Archive: Eloy Fernández Porta or the non Unitary Subject

31 December 2018

Artist’s Status

30 November 2018

COREOGRAPHY

31 October 2018

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