Art and Obscenity
Explicit material is more widely available in the internet age than ever before, yet the concept of ‘obscenity’ remains as difficult to pin down as it is to approach without bias: notions of what is ‘obscene’ shift with societies’ shifting mores, and our responses to explicit or disturbing material can be highly subjective. In this intelligent and sensitive book, Kerstin Mey grapples with the work of twentieth-century artists practising at the edges of acceptability, from Hans Bellmer through to Nobuyoshi Araki, from Robert Mapplethorpe to Annie Sprinkle, and from Hermann Nitsch to Paul McCarthy. Mey refuses sweeping statements and ‘knee-jerk’ responses, arguing with dexterity that some works, regardless of their ‘high art’ context, remain deeply problematic, whilst others are both groundbreaking and liberating.
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List of Illustrations
On the definition of the category of the obscene
2 Transgressive Rituals
3 Abjection and Disease
The cadaver as fascinosum
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aesthetic ambivalent American and/or Annie Sprinkle argued authenticity Bataille become bodily boundaries camera Carolee Schneemann codes colour complex contemporary context conventions corpse creative critical death depiction desire discourse display domain erotic art experience explicit eyes female body feminist figure’s film formal framework function gallery gaze gendered Georges Bataille gesture Hagens heterosexual human Ibid identity images imagination immediacy instance Internet Jan Saudek kitsch Kristeva London male Mapplethorpe Marlene Dumas material Mikhailov models moral notions object obscene one’s operations painting penis performance Peter Greenaway phallus photographs Pierre et Gilles pin-up political popular porn pornography potential practices production Raymond Pettibon reality representation Ruff’s scene Schneemann screen-print Serrano’s sexual signifying situation social and cultural society stage strategies sublimating symbolic order technologies Thomas Ruff tradition transgression uncanny viewer violence visual VNS Matrix western Whilst woman women York young British artists