“Lee’s work separates the vague relationship between image and desire.”
Since when has the relationship between image and desire been ‘vague’? A vast porn industry is predicated precisely on the fact that the relationship between image and sexual desire is very clear-cut indeed. How else would pornography ‘work’?
Take a look at Horyon’s work.
Am I the only one to find them offensive?
I am reminded of the old sexist ‘joke’:
“You don’t look at the mantlepiece when you’re poking the fire”.
Dress it up in meaningless, high-sounding sophistry as much as you like; the fact remains that images of headless/faceless women in poses ranging from the titillating to ‘softly’ (ha!) pornographic are, in my opinion, offensive to at least half the human race.
The last one, with her ass in your face, is veiled, for crying out loud.
This in a world where women the world over are struggling to throw off ‘the veil’, both literally and metaphorically.
Subjecting women in this fashion, reducing them, not to ‘objects’ (all art objectifies, as I’ve argued before) but to detached, depersonalised commodities purveyed to the male gaze is, in my opinion, not something to be tolerated in the name of ‘art’. There’s no denying Horyon’s technical excellence, but art is not just about how you make it; it’s also about what you choose to make. I’m all for freedom of expression – which is why I’m having my say here – but retrograde representations like these contribute nothing; they merely perpetuate the millenia-old view of women as little more than the means to male sexual gratification.
Strip-tease, burlesque, pornography, these works: they’re all the same in their rejection of an equal relationship between ‘viewer’ and ‘viewed’, and therefore equally deleterious.
Compare if you will Rembrandt’s magnificent Hendrickje Bathing:
This is a woman, Rembrandt’s common-law wife, who was both desired and deeply loved. She has a name and a face; she is a person, not an idealised/air-brushed cipher, and is presented to us with all the tenderness and respect that Rembrandt’s matchless painterly skill allowed.
In her complete trust and lack of self-consciousness, she is very much an equal partner in this work.
That’s what it’s all about.