Year of the Butt. Men From Behind. Naked Boys Reading: B*ttmunch. Haunted Butts. Butts, butts, butts. Why butts? Salacious homo-smut or earnest body-positive crusade? Might have manifested in either / multiple way(s). Simply quite fascinated in this ‘blind’ spot of the body and its associations. Also, I like them. Get a fair amount of pleasure from them.
Discovered: gastromancy, the Victorian-belief that spirits entered the body via rectum and spoke from the stomach (see also: ventriloquism) . Daisy Campbell speaks eloquently and enthusiastically on subject. Also, the crystal ball as surrogate belly. Listen: it growls. Historic precedent for ghosts and butts made me feel marginally less insane when creating Haunted Butts, queer performance party which was a lot of fun and work.
Mouth voice, intangible emanations from the self, polar opposites of the anus and ordure. Words escape us. Relevant to Lacan’s quilting point: language pins down a meaning like a stud in sofa upholstery; remove it and meaning unravels through a butthole aperture. See Jonathan Kemp’s ‘The Penetrated Male‘. The generative possibilities of both openings. More control over one than the other.
On digestion and eating: “all spiritual pleasure can be expressed through eating”, because “the physical assimilation is mysterious enough to be a beautiful image of the spiritual meaning” (Novalis). Also, “to love without wanting to devour must surely be anorexic” (Derrida).
[Well aware I might sound like a nob quoting philosophers whose books I’ve not read, thanks for pointing that out, let’s proceed.]
Tooth-torn and ground-down on Grindr: chomp! chomp! chomp! Oh insatiable urge. Locusts turn cannibal. Stop here for agricultural apocalypse as depicted in John Maus’s The Combine (“I hear the combine coming / It’s going to dust us all to nothing.”)
Fundamental experience and divisive subject eliciting embarrassed laughter or wide-eyed agreement. Carries sense of dirty joke around with it. Which is fine. I’m happy to laugh along.
Laptop interjects: NO BACKUPS FOR 67 DAYS | CLOSE
The dirty black water waves against the white stone. The dirty black water glimmers in grey light in flashes of near white. The black rope tightens and slackens in the water.
It flows like a sullen old man in a bombed-out European boulevard.
The dirty black water bears dark blue ships. I close my eyes. I feel the slime beneath my hands. The rough jetty surface, the scaly sea-wall surface. I feel it under my slime skin.
Arpeggio of emotions: doldrums of ecstasy doldrums of ecstasy. Your fingers stroke me as I lie sideways in your lap. The feeling slides off my cheek and the deck and my beach towel flutters in the wind. I pass through. Stages.
No, that’s OK, I don’t need any help thank you, I’m hurt already. And the thing is in pieces. So when do I cry if not now, and if so, at what? White chairs in a dark wood with fairy lights. I try to blank. The muscle-queens who wanted me to be a unified, non-contradictory being, singing these worm-songs.
On cocks and death:
“Similarly a multitude of sarcophagi are found with the rooster and the sacred cockfight with the understanding of striving for resurrection and eternal life in Christianity. This sacred subject carved on early Christian tombs, where the sepulchral carvings have an important purpose, “a faithful wish for immortality, with the victory of the cock and his supporting genius analogous to the hope of resurrection, the victory of the soul over death”
I’m thinking about AA Bronson’s book of queer rituals, a text that was brought to Men From Behind the other week; one involves adornment with cockerel feathers (I think – taking this from memory). And I’m thinking about dawn as that liminal space between night and day, and how in Dracula, Jonathan Harker notes that its a time when souls on the cusp of death tend to release themselves from the body. And of course, I’m thinking about cocks and butts. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve been reading long enough to know that’s what I’m about at the moment.
A return to routine perhaps, this regular Sunday update.
In August, I’ll be taking an expanded version of LOAD to Dublin Live Art Festival.
Credit: Ivan Denia, Chisenhale Dance Space, Fiver Friday
First presented at SPILL Festival in October 2016, it’s a TED talk that’s actually a yoga session that’s really a phone sex chat line about putting your body and life on display. I’m performing alongside some really great artists including Martin O’Brien, Rhiannon Armstrong, Robert Hesp, Umama Hamido, Reverend Billy and more.
And then in September, I’ll be notching up a few more air miles by following in the footsteps of Count Dracula on a pilgrimage into the heart of darkness.
Credit: Gareth Cutter
Taking in a Whitby weekender, a 5-day research trip to Romania, and a concluding overnight vigil in London, this DIY+ led by Martin O’Brien, and supported by LADA and Jerwood Charitable Foundation, feeds into some of my own thinking into sick, queer bodies, gastromancy and buttholes, which I expect will be bubbling up sometime in October.
Over and out.
There are three dancers in In The Mood For Frankie, currently being shown at Trajal Harrell’s performance installation, Hooch Koochie, showing at the Barbican. Trajal is one of them. We watch him and the others as we perch on piano benches, squat on the ground, or stand either side of the faux-marble platforms (really just overhead digital projections beamed down on plain white wood), small fish pond and kitschy straw mats that make up the runway. By turns languid and extravagant, taut and frantic, the dancers stalk the space and claim it as their own with nonchalance.
The variations are a long-time in coming, and I oscillate between fascination and boredom.
One of the dancers is holding an old oil lamp and prancing back in forth in what I would describe as a ‘Medieval courtly style’, his gaze leaping between the ground and the sky, leading his body with it. He does a little solo from one end of the platform the other and back again, joining Trajal and the other dancer as a trio.
They remind me of friends dancing in a club.
And like when you’re at the optician and they’re trying different strength lenses on to get the prescription right, a new ‘lens’ drops over my gaze on the scene all of a sudden, wiping out any attempt to fix meaning on it: they’re just three bodies dancing together. The set, the costume – doesn’t really mean anything. This guy holding the lamp? I find it intensely funny. Not disparagingly so. I love it. It makes me want to take an empty kettle to the next Knickerbocker and act fabulous whilst doing it.
In one of the adjacent rooms, there’s a slightly doctored version of Baudrillard’s The Conspiracy Of Art projected on the wall, where he argues ‘art has lost all desire for illusion: feeding back endlessly into itself, it has turned its own vanishment into an art unto itself.’ Trajal has changed ‘art’ to ‘performance’. As a gesture, its probably the least interesting one he makes in the exhibition, but one line from the original leaps out at me strongly:
“The poetic operation is to make nothing appear out of the power of signs.”
In Telford there are a lot of occluded men. There is a grid of flesh. There is wet chest hair that looks suspiciously like a question mark asking “What are you looking for?” There are pink supply lips at the top of the frame. Instead of answering, you just place the screen of your phone over your face and slide it down reaallllllllllllllllly slowly. A moan escapes. Repeat the action and feel the smooth plastic against skin produce a friction you didn’t expect while a voice goes “Hello? Can you hear me? If you are a racist or do not like people from America then block me.” And if you replied, it would be something like, “No, it’s not like that at all, none of those things bother me,” but you place the phone in your pocket and grab your keys. Going out. Back later. See you in a bit. But you’re still walking through a grid that stretches much further than you’ll ever walk, even as you head to the lump of land called the Wrekin. A landmark. You don’t know the names of any of the plants. Nope. This place? Why would I?
New Fag Realism. A puce screed of tedious intention.
I set myself this target of writing a blog every week to be published on a Sunday and so far I’ve found it both funny and boring, and occasionally inspirational. Not much to report (yet) but I’ll tell you this: I walked down a forest path in Ironbridge gorge on my 30th and it stank of wild garlic and manure. My nose was rancid with the odour and I thought, ‘Great! This is exactly the smell I want for my next project, given that it will probably be about ventriloquism’.
I’ve also been writing some poetry on Twitter that no-one seems to be paying attention to, which is just the way it should be because there are far too many poets and not enough Halifax adverts to go round.
Water. Coffee. No. No coffee. I love you. No I. I love you.
Been working with Paul at Chisenhale Dance Space on LOAD for a couple of days this week. The pair of us have been pinching, swiping, pressing and gliding through a structure that does gentle hand-brake turns. The audience watches a punishing floor as two violins glide away from each other imperceptibly and Beckett disappears into a lacuna. Noun verb noun. August. That’s when I’m presenting it. Across real and imagined borders.
In December I go to a place to make some work as well but I don’t know how much I can say about this because I haven’t asked. What is an artist’s blog really for, then? Nothing. Absolutely fine.
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This morning the steady whine in my ear collapsed into a coastal crash and I thought I might fall out of my chair: man, laptop and Microsoft Word report overboard. Labyrinthitis (nowt to do with David Bowie). And I got up and felt the knotty left hip, and the collapsed, shallow right foot. The eyes, the disease and the body blasted by sex, inhibition, performance, the wrong limits, the recklessness of a rubber band flying from thumb and forefinger. This has nothing to do with turning 30 and everything to do with having been 20.
Apart from that, nothing extra-ordinary this week (except I discovered that the Shrek Is Love, Shrek Is Life video is soundtracked by Stars Of The Lid).