Image: Omer Fast, still from Everything That Rises Must Converge, 2013
As a change from single-screen films, this week’s Onscreen brings together a series of URLs that link to a selection of films, performances, texts and websites that critically reflect on pornography as an industry, as a literary and film genre and as a pervasive part of everyday life.
Susan Sontag’s The Pornographic Imagination (1967) provides a rigorous and, as ever with Sontag, unflinching analysis of pornography as a literary genre. The text can be found here and a related lecture here.
“From the standpoint of social and psychological phenomena, all pornographic texts have the same status; they are documents. But from the standpoint of art, some of these texts may well become something else. Not only do Pierre Louy’s Trois Filles de leur Mere, Georges Bataille’s Histoire de l’Oeil and Madame Edwardia, the pseudonymous Story of O and The Image belong to literature, but it can be made clear why these books, all five of them, occupy a much higher rank as literature than…” Susan Sontag, The Pornographic Imagination (1967).
Omer Fast’s four-channel digital film Everything That Rises Must Converge, 2013, weaves together documentary material and fictional scenes over a twenty-four hour period in Los Angeles. The documentary component follows a day in the life of four real-life adult film performers. The scenes from the everyday life of the actors are inter-cut with fictional episodes situated in the same house as the actors’ set: an adult film director who turns trauma into art, a husband and wife in the middle of a crisis and an actress who is questioning her role. The single version of the 55 min, looped four-channel installation can be found here (courtesy of the artist and Arratia Beer).
The harsh reality of peripatetic producers of porn in Eastern Europe is examined in Joshua Cohen’s short novel Sent:
“Hello my name is Moc and today I have make my first sex on camera. Just for you @ 1stsexoncamera.com
Let’s try that again, he said, just read the card he’s holding.
The card? she asked.
Hello my name is Moc and today I make my first sex on camera. Just for you @ first-sexy-on-camera.com
Try it again…”
An excerpt can be found here (courtesy of Bomb magazine).
And there’s a perspective on, perhaps, a more traditional form in the Max Hardcore documentary.
Image: Addie Wagenknecht and Pablo Garcia, still from brbxoxo, 2014
Addie Wagenknecht and Pablo Garcia’s website (code by Brannon Dorsey) brbxoxo searches online sexcam sites and only broadcasts feeds when the performers are absent. In contrast, the performer is very present in the work of Lora Hristova and Ann Hirsch.
Lora Hristova’s performance lecture (part of Lora’s residency at the Zabludowicz Collection in 2013), takes as it’s starting point her conversations with an adult film director she engaged in factual, theoretical and ideological discussions about the pornography industry. Ann Hirsch’s performance (don’t be put off if you’re asked for a password – it’s just below the vimeo screen on the left) begins with the props used to create foley effects in post-production.