The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 1050)

Arnold Odermatt’s Car Wrecks *

* (restored)

 

‘Once upon a time, there was a Swiss policeman named Arnold Odermatt, whose photographs long went unnoticed, but who then achieved international recognition when the photographer himself was past retirement age. Born into a family of eleven children in the canton of Nidwalden in 1925 – his father was a forester – Arnold Odermatt initially apprenticed as a baker and pastry cook. He was forced to leave that profession, however, because of an allergy, and by chance he ended up joining the cantonal police, where he spent the next forty years. He was responsible in particular for road safety in this little canton isolated in the middle of Switzerland, hemmed in by the Alps and Lake Lucerne.

‘At the age of ten, Arnold Odermatt won a camera in a competition and taught himself how to use it, which grew into what can only be called a passion for photography. He took his twin-lens Rolleiflex with him wherever he went, photographing the people and landscapes of the region and later his wife and children. He also incorporated photography into his day-to-day work, using it to document traffic accidents, which were quite common at the time.

‘However, Odermatt’s hobby was met with indifference by those around him, and for fifty years he captured tens of thousands of images which, carefully stored and organized, languished in his attic, until one day in the early 1990s, his son, Urs Odermatt, himself a director and filmmaker, came upon them. The retired policeman’s photographs were published in a book edited by his son, and recognition for the work grew steadily. Exhibited in 1998 at police headquarters in Frankfurt am Main during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the black and white images of vehicles damaged in accidents caught the attention of the celebrated curator Harald Szeemann, who showed them at the Venice Biennale in 2001. From that point on, the Swiss policeman’s photographs were internationally acclaimed. Three books were published by Steidl, one of the most prominent publishers in the photography world, and his images were exhibited by numerous museums and galleries in Europe and the United States.

‘All of the prerequisites were in place for the creation of an ‘Odermatt legend’ that would be especially attractive to the contemporary art world. Like Eugène Atget, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, and Miroslav Tichý, Odermatt belongs to that special category of ‘outsiders’ discovered late in life, cut off from the art world and unconcerned with concepts or declarations of intent. As a figure of ‘artistic innocence,’ he compels us to question the shifting boundaries between art and non-art, between art and art brut or ‘outsider art.’ Arnold Odermatt’s work is difficult to categorize because it seems to include both applied professional photography when he is ‘on duty’ as well as amateur photography when he is ‘off duty.’ What is certain is that the power and originality of his images, in contrast with his complete absence of formal artistic training and his long isolation, problematize what may be called ‘artistic intention’ and its role in the quality of the images produced. Is a self-taught photographer with no formal training who has never called his images ‘art’ therefore devoid of Kunstwollen? Because it is so difficult to make assumptions about intentions that are not expressed as a conceptualized and verbalized desire to ‘make art,’ I will consider the unrecognized character of Arnold Odermatt’s practice, but will do so without using terms like ‘naïve’ or ‘outsider,’ which are too fraught with connotations and too reductive. In what follows, I will suggest that these belatedly recognized artists be referred to as unsanctioned artists (artistes non-homologués). This term is an indirect reference to one of Dubuffet’s earliest essays on art brut; it makes it possible to group together the various ‘irregular’6 practices by virtue of their contrast with official art world channels, without, however, stigmatizing them by setting up a dualism in which art is opposed to non-art. The term ‘sanction’ signals official recognition, but does it alter the nature of what it consecrates?

‘The contrast between images that satisfy the art world’s expectations in terms of their quality and a photographer who stubbornly refused to seek any kind of critical recognition for his work seems to endow Odermatt’s practice with an obvious appeal as something ‘instinctive’ and ‘authentic.’’ — Caroline Recher

 

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Further

Arnold Odermatt Website
AO @ Galerie Springer
‘Arnold Odermatt – Beyond the Seven Mountains’
‘Karambolage (Smash-up)’
AO reviewed @ Frieze

 

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Video


Arnold Odermatt – Die Ästhetik der Karambolage


Arnold Odermatt – Rasthaus


Arnold Odermatt und John Waters – Fotomuseum Winterthur


Trailer: ‘Crash Course: The Accidental Art of Arnold Odermatt’

 

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Other works

 

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Biography

 

‘Arnold Odermatt the Nidwalden Police in 1948. He was forced to give up his original career as a bakery and pastry chef on health grounds. As the policeman Arnold Odermatt first appeared with his Rolleiflex at the scene of an accident – to provide photos to complement the police report, people found this rather disconcerting. At that time, photography was anything other than an independent means of providing the police with evidence.

‘A colleague observed Arnold Odermatt as he took pictures for the force and was suspicious. He was ordered to report to his commander immediately. Odermatt managed to convince his superiors of the pioneering work he was doing. They allowed him to convert an old toilet in an observation post in Stans into a makeshift dark room. When the observation post was moved into another building several years later, Switzerland’s first police photographer was given his own laboratory.

‘Arnold Odermatt’s biggest role model was the famous Magnum photographer Werner Bischof. He met him once by chance, as he was on security duty on the Bürgenstock and wanted to photograph Charlie Chaplin. Odermatt’s own style was characterised by sobriety and authenticity. The spartan linguistic expression of his police reports can also be found in Odermatt’s images. His craftsmanship is beyond question, nothing of note is missed by his photographic eye. In KARAMBOLAGE, his most famous series of work, you can’t see the maimed victims but you do see the ethereal, surreal sculptures of scrap metal. With the softness and melancholy of Jacques Tati, he looks at the consequences of speed and the hectic nature of modern times.

‘For 40 years, Arnold Odermatt captured the daily work of the Nidwalden police force. It was only rarely that the local press, the court or an insurance company were interested in his photos. It was only when his son, the film and theatre director Urs Odermatt, showed the photos in for the first time at a solo exhibition in Frankfurt am Main that the art scene first became interested in his work. After the inspiring exhibition, the photo book Meine Welt followed. Suddenly the everyday observations from the central Swiss province had gained the same status as those of his well-travelled predecessor, Werner Bischof.

‘At an early stage in his police career, when Arnold used the camera to catalogue traffic accidents, this was a revolutionary innovation in the Swiss police. If Arnold Odermatt were to turn up at a crime scene with his camera today, he could expect to be told that photography was not for him, but was instead the job of a specially trained police photographer.’ — collaged

 


Arnold Odermatt – Prominenz auf dem Bürgenstock.

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Steve Finbow, Hi, Steve! My great pleasure. Yes, next time you’re in Paris let’s meet, that would be great. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Ka-ching! I will report back from my zLib ‘shopping’ trip. I will avoid ‘Eric’ like the plague, thank you so much and condolences re: love’s fruitless 90 or so minutes spent thereby. Love getting in a car wreck and thinking ‘finally, I am art’ while he waits for the paramedics to arrive, G. ** Nasir, Hi, Nasir. Great to see you, pal. New? Mm  … slightly advanced versions of the same old thing probably. Changing, like, how? I hope it’s not as fatally hot where you are as I just read it is. ** _Black_Acrylic, Yep. Hey, dude, the new PTv2 was/is great through and through. I especially loved the Gladio, HYMN, and [grens] tracks. And the Noizeclot -> Deutsch Nepal ending was perfect. Thank you, maestro! Oh, I’ll search the news for how Scotland deals with Germany today hoping it’s a total devastation. ** James Bennett, Hi, James. Sorry about the blog’s inexplicable persnickety-ness. I’ve read Bassani’s ‘The Gold-rimmed Spectacles’, but I think that’s all. I liked it. I think doing whatever you want so you can get excited/curious again is the right approach. I try to save my grinding for the later editing part when cranking and maintaining objectivity is an easier combo. Yes, definitely on the Paris coffee. Do you have my email? It’s denniscooper72@outlook.com, and you can let me know there what your local schedule is when time is right. I am into Antonioni, yes. ‘L’aventura’, ‘Red Desert’, and ‘Blow Up’ are my favorites, I think. Thanks about the film woes, but I think I’m going to be stiuck with them for a while. Soldiering on. ** jay, Hi, Cool, glad the book looks good. No, I don’t think I know that UK serial murderer court case, but now I’m curious, of course. I think your boyfriend makes a lot of sense. I think the idea that being disgusted shows you have high morals is pretty bogus. ** Lucas, Hi, Lucas. That cake was god in a sugary form, seriously. I miss it. Again, you live in an awfully, awfully serenely attraction place. I’m without a reciprocal photo today, but I’ll take one of something potentially viewable+ today if it’s the last thing I do. Oh, god. what a bore, that yt opinionator. You can imagine what people assume about me even though my arrest record — growing marijuana in my backyard, unpaid parking tickets — indicates otherwise. Nice re: your half brother. I haven’t seen my half brother in years, but all he ever did was talk about American football and laugh a lot. Sorry for the excessive heat. I fear for us over here. Thursday was shitty, to be perfectly frank, but it’s over, and I’m going to see some live music and eat Ethiopian tonight, so all’s theoretically good. I hope your Friday is/was cool and breezy even if that’s artificially generated. ** Don Waters, Hi. Don. It’s amazing: Naoshima. Actually there are three art islands right next to each other. And you should go to Japan as soon as it’s possible. It’s an amazement of a place. ‘Short Letter, Long Farewell’ is a good one, or I sure thought so when I read it. Thanks for the fill-in about Iris Owens. I’m very intrigued. She should be fairly easy to find here, it sounds like. Awesome, dude. How did Friday treat you? ** Steve, We don’t have a documentary idea in mind although we talk about wanting to do one frequently. It’s also easier to get funding for documentaries over here for some reason. I haven’t hit download on zLib yet, but I don’t anticipate viruses unless it’s really changed, and, well, I guess it has. I’ll tiptoe, albeit with my fingertips. ** Harper, Hi, H. ILP is pretty stellar, yeah. Oh, right, toothpicks! I forgot how helpful they were. And mine weren’t even flavored. Toothpicks are undervalued. By me too, apparently. That’s so seriously stressful about your apartment situation. I mean, yeah, you will sort or tough it out and be fine, but the worrying in the meantime, Jesus. I wish I had more peace of mind to vibe onto you, but you can have my vestiges if vibes are real. ** Uday, Hi. I’ve heard of Anna’s Archive. I’ll check it out. It’s a membership site, I think? ‘Salo’ in middle school, whilst fever-ridden nonetheless: impressive. I’m a weirdo who doesn’t like that film. I know, I know. I think it’s silly. I know, I know. I actually possess a dry wit in person, or so people say. If so, I think it’s a lucky accident. Maybe a collected p.s. plus comments book? ** Dev, I will. I’m angled towards them. I’ve only seen ‘ST’, ‘Sunday in the Park with George’, and ‘Merrily We Roll Along’, and the last one only because an ex-boyfriend of mine starred in the original, doomed Broadway production of it, poor thing. I liked ‘SitPwG’. Sondheim was sitting near me when I saw it frantically talking notes. Well, I encourage you to finish that story, obviously. Think about it, or, wait, do more than think about it. ** 🐌Darby🐛, Who doesn’t? (Tons and tons of people). On second thought, I believe you about centi- and millipedes. I think one scared the shit out of me when I was, like, 3 years old. I need to unburden myself. Mechanics are cooler than pilots any old day, so, cool. Stylish in the sense that they make this bird who sometimes joins them and tries to imitate them look like a dork. I was kind of obsessed with Gacy’s last, Robert Piest. In fact, he has a small co-starring role in my novel ‘I Wished’ even. Never heard of Baraboo Bonebreaker, no. But I will endeavor to enlighten myself re: that. Thank you. I hope you really did wish me a goof weekend because that’s exactly the kind of weekend I want. And same to you! xo. ** Justin D, It does, right? And I have an actual copy, and it lives up in person. Early happy birthday! What are you going to do to make that day fun or less unfun than you expect? I hear you: I see my birthdays as just one more notch on my death sentence. I don’t think I ever watched any of those Brat Pack movies and yet I’m curious to watch that doc, and that seems weird, but I am. And I will. Yesterday sucked due the film producer shit, and Zac and I are troopers, but I think everything is going to suck kind of hard for at least weeks to come. Ah, life. But I’ll have fun. I’ll eat something chocolatey for your birthday for one thing. See, now that will help. Thank you for being born at this point in time. ** Shirley, That needs orchestral accompaniment if it doesn’t already have it. Mm, yes, I’ve had other friends who slept with famous people, and I’ve had famous friends who slept with non-famous people too. And I have slept with a famous person or two, but my lips are sealed. You? ** Oscar 🌀, I love being greeted by a high pitched scream, so thank you. I think it’s really a shame that dogs’ jaws and tongues are too rudimentarily designed to be able to pronounce the words ‘Hi Oscar’ because I have it on good authority that they really want to. Congrats to your grubby paws, speaking of dogs. I’ll resist the temptation to suggest that you start sleeping in bulletproof pajamas. No, I don’t think that’s weird. I myself can handle pretty much anything in books or movies, but, in real life, I can’t almost at all. Ecstatic Friday to you and to your newly enlightened bf too. ** Bill, Hi. She knew her shit, yep. ** Okay. Something came over me that caused me to restore this old post about a policeman whose photographs of the aftermaths of car crashes caused him to be considered an artist. See you tomorrow.

Regarding … Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia by Steve Finbow (2014/2024)

 

Necrophilia has shadowed humanity throughout its existence, from ancient Egypt, to the Moche culture of Peru, the exploits of the renowned Vampire of Montparnasse, the sexual murders of the Weimar Republic, through to serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. This new edition of Grave Desire – with artworks by Karolina Urbaniak – delves unflinchingly into the myths, art and practices surrounding this taboo subject. Finding Juliet’s catatonic body and believing she had poisoned herself, it could have crossed Romeo’s mind to act out the unthinkable. Maybe Juliet, seeing Romeo’s corpse, considered a little sexual frottage before she stabbed herself with the phallic dagger. Repulsive yet real, disgusting and disturbing, this is an erotic book of the dead.

“If sex and death are two pivotal obsessions of the human species, Steve Finbow nails both of them simultaneously in his brilliantly incisive cultural and corporeal history of necrophilia. Pathologically and outlandishly good.”—Stephen Barber

“If you only read one book before you die make sure it’s Grave Desire.”—Stewart Home

Illustrated by Karolina Urbaniak
Interview conducted by Martin Bladh
Afterword by Richard Marshall

Hardbound with a dust jacket, 316 pages, 148 x210mm
Order here: https://www.infinitylandpress.com/gravedesire

 

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From Disinterview ~

Martin Bladh: The first edition of Grave Desire was published by Zer0 Books in 2014; it has since gained quite a reputation, even cult status. It’s probably your most well-known work, and I wouldn’t hesitate to claim that it’s groundbreaking in many ways. This book is of course of particular importance to Infinity Land Press, not only because the subject fascinates us, but because it was at its launch in London that Karolina and I first met you: a meeting which sparked a collaboration that has lasted a decade and spawned titles such as Death Mort Tod (2018), Anthology (2021) and Polaroid/ Haiku (2023). How did readers react to Grave Desire, and what are your thoughts about it today? If I’m not mistaken, there still haven’t been any other major studies published about necrophilia?

Steve Finbow: The responses from readers varied, ranging from complete fascination to moral repulsion. Some people contacted me saying how they found the book amazing and unlike anything they had read before. On a number of occasions, people would be reading Grave Desire on public transport causing others to move seats out of repugnance. I had one person, who shall remain nameless, who is supposedly interested in – for want of a better term – ‘transgressive literature’, who told someone else that I ‘write sick books’ – a badge of honour in my mind. It was originally to be published by Creation Books but before that happened the infamous James Williamson decided to take a break from publishing. The day Zer0 books published Grave Desire was also the day Tariq Goddard and Mark Fisher resigned to launch Repeater Books. It got lost in the confusion and was not adequately promoted but, from an academic viewpoint, it has garnered something of a cult following. My thoughts today are like most author’s thoughts on past works – I gained valuable insights from the research and writing process. As usual for me, be it ten days or ten years, I cannot remember writing sections of it and have no idea from where the impetus came. The paragraphs on the Albert Memorial are insane and I am perplexed each time I re-read them as to what I was on at the time – but the answer is English breakfast tea – I cannot write if I have had even one sip of beer. Initially, I was exploring necrophilia for another project, but the only available literature was Anil Aggrawal’s informative Necrophilia – Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects, which, as the title suggests, takes a dry and systematic academic approach to the subject. Besides books on serial killers, there was a lack of material discussing historical and cultural responses to this paraphilia. After gathering research, I made the decision to write the book, and I am grateful that I did because, among other things, it led me to meet you, Karolina, and other members of the Infinity Land Press artist collective. I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating and working with everyone, especially during the editing of Anthology.

 

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From Necroduction ~

In his poem ‘Paisant Chronicle’ Wallace Stevens writes, ‘What it seems / It is and in such seeming all things are.’ Meret Oppenheim’s Object (Paris, 1936) is what it seems – a fur-covered saucer, cup, and teaspoon. What is happening here? The everyday objects we use to consume our oxtail soup and our crème brûlée are fetishised. The fur covering sexualises the object-in-itself – its new pelt subsumes its very usefulness, its readiness-to-hand. It is transformed from a tool into a sexual object, one of disgust – the thought of fur on our tongues, hairs stuck to the back of our throat, lodged in our oesophagus. Yet, Object is also a thing of beauty – the luxurious fur of the Chinese gazelle inviting us to stroke it, the smooth curvilinear architecture of the cup, saucer, and spoon like hypermodern air terminals and airplanes streamlined by hunter-gathering Cro-Magnons; or cars and their eroticised speed deaths, the sexual thrust of the body and its encompassing prosthesis: ‘Trying to exhaust himself, Vaughan devised an endless almanac of terrifying wounds and insane collisions: The lungs of elderly men punctured by door-handles; the chests of young women impaled on steering-columns; the cheek of handsome youths torn on the chromium latches of quarter-lights. To Vaughan, these wounds formed the key to a new sexuality, born from a perverse technology. The images of these wounds hung in the gallery of his mind, like exhibits in the museum of a slaughterhouse.’ Almost as if Ballard were rewriting the Second Futurist Manifesto: ‘We declare that the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty – the beauty of speed. A racing car with its bonnet draped with exhaust-pipes like fire-breathing serpents – a roaring racing car, rattling along like a machine gun, is more beautiful than the winged victory of Samothrace’, as: ‘We declare that the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty – the beauty of death. A racing car with its bonnet draped with genitalia like fire-breathing serpents – an eroticised corpse, rattling along in its death throes, is more beautiful than the crucified body of Jesus Christ.
—-Object is an object of desire subject to detestation, of taste subject to distaste, of pleasure subject to pain. Its concave surfaces suggest female sexual organs – it is fiercely anti-masculine, surprisingly political, an inward turning of all those up-thrusting phalluses created by Picasso and Brancusi. ‘Very soft particles – but also very hard and obstinate, irreducible, indomitable.’ A quotidian object consumed by the sexual gaze of its observer, revulsion overcome by compulsion, rejection by fascination. Object destabilises the phenomenological presentation of everyday objects; defamiliarised in their own appearance of appearance, they question our very being. Meret Oppenheim’s Object reifies Heidegger’s description of phenomena as ‘that which shows itself in itself. The manifest.’ Is a human body ever reducible to a thing? When does s/he become it? ‘The object is an imperative, radiating over us like a black sun, holding us in its orbit, demanding our attention, insisting that we reorganise our lives along its axes. The object is a force, and thus our valuation of it is a gift of force, and nothing like a recognition at all.’
—-No matter which way you look at them, they look wrong. A head does not seem to fit the body to which it is attached, the legs are not where legs should be, the intagliated pudenda appears alien, distended sockets and dislocated limbs sprout from elongated or truncated torsos. The skin on some of them looks as though it is made from bone, and the bone looks like it’s crafted from flesh. ‘These flaccid globes, like the obscene sculptures of Bellmer, reminded her of elements of her own body transformed into a series of imaginary sexual organs. She touched the pallid neoprene, marking the vents and folds with a broken nail. In some weird way they would coalesce, giving birth to deformed sections of her lips and armpit, the junction of thigh and perineum.’ Some have the faces of young virgins, others resemble department store mannequins, while still more have no heads at all. Most of the bodies are de-articulated, fragmented. Joined at the navel and reversed – the body has two sets of legs, an anus and a hairless vagina where, logically, the head should be. ‘In his eye, without thinking, he married her right knee and left breast, ankle and perineum, armpit and buttock.’ Another, tied to a banister, is armless, one-legged, the pre-pubescent pudenda juxtaposed against the buttocks as breasts. Where are its arms? What happened to one of its legs? The absence of body parts becomes pure presence through the abject bondage: ‘the bodily self is phenomenally represented as inhabiting a volume in space, whereas the seeing self is an extensionless point – namely, the center of projection for our visuospatial perspective, the geometrical origin of our perspectival visual model of reality. Normally this point of origin (behind the eyes, as if a little person were looking out of them as one looks out a window) is within the volume defined by the felt bodily self. Yet, as our experiments demonstrated, seeing and bodily self can be separated, and the fundamental sense of selfhood is found at the location of the visual body representation.’ Some might be wearing masks, have leg stumps for a brow, labia for a mouth. Childhood objects surround these figures of erotic amputation, of nightmare assemblage. White ankle socks and patent-leather shoes, blonde locks and pink bows. These mutilated figures are from Hans Bellmer’s Doll series originating in 1934 with the publication of Die Puppe, ten black and white photographs of the assembled (or disassembled) doll in various provocative poses: ‘They must not be opposed determinations of the same of a same entity, nor the differentiations of a single being, such as the masculine and the feminine in the human sex, but different or really-distinct things (des réellement distincts), distinct ‘beings,’ as found in the dispersion of the nonhuman sex, (the clover and the bee).’

 

 

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From NecroHysteria – A Short History ~

In the early 1860s, the British prime minister Lord Palmerston and his ministers attempted to protect Queen Victoria from her perceived ‘necrophilia’. The object of this (mis)perception, the Albert Memorial – completed in 1872, ten years after the death of Victoria’s beloved Prince Consort – showed how the queen ‘pushe(d) to the limit the realization of something that might be called the pure and simple desire of death as such. She incarnated that desire in the elaborate Gothic structure standing 54 metres tall. The statue of Albert seated beneath and within the tower, transforms the memorial into a Gothic spaceship, Albert as pilot, a steampunk version of Giger’s Alien space jockey, surrounded by the marbled metaphorical continents, blasting into the Victorian fundament, on its way to sexual congress with its mammarian/vulval partner the Royal Albert Hall, transmogrifying both into the copulatory Victoria and Albert Museum with its thrusting towers and supple domes. Albertopolis, Victoria’s monument to her lover, is an area/arena of death and desire, a hallucinated topology of lack, absence and death. The Albert Memorial’s phallocentric thrust embodies Victoria’s symbolic necrophilia in which Albert’s dead body metamorphoses into a giant gilded statue, a form of ‘Venus statuaria’, love for or intercourse with a statue as seen in the agalmatophilia of Krafft-Ebing’s ‘story of a young man (related by Lucianus and St. Clemens of Alexandria) who made use of a Venus made by Praxiteles for the gratification of his lust; and the case of Clisyphus, who violated the statue of a goddess in the Temple of Samos, after having placed a piece of meat on a certain part. In modern times, L’Événement of 4 March 1877, relates the story of a gardener who fell in love with a statue of the Venus of Milo, and was discovered attempting coitus with it. An extreme form of Pygmalionism, Victoria’s symbolic necrophilia, her building of memorials, concert halls, and museums for her dead lover, enacts a ‘religious fetishism and phallus cult’ of Albert.
—-In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this symbolic necrophilia manifests itself in Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel’s L’age d’or, Jake and Dinos Chapman’s Death (two bronze inflatable dolls on a lilo in the 69 position), and the articulated/de-articulated dolls of Hans Bellmer, Katan Amano, Ryoichi Yoshida, Marina Bychkova and, more recently Sarah Lucas’s Black and White Bunny and Pauline Bunny. The sex doll’s inanimate concupiscence actualises a symbolic necrophilia, its gradation of life-like appearance and touch made terminal and morbid by their thanatoid presence, their living absence. As dolls and robots become more human, the ‘uncanny valley’ effect develops, in which humans feel a revulsion towards the robot/ doll. Like the corpse, it is both nearly human and fully human and neither. Both the agalmatophile and the necrophile transgress this ‘uncanny valley’ and transform this revulsion into desire. In 2007, Erika LaBrie took part in a commitment ceremony with the Eiffel Tower and became Erica ‘Aya’ Eiffel (she has had previous ‘commitments’ to her archery bow and the Berlin Wall), in an objectum (object sexuality) variation of Victoria’s symbolic necrophilia with the Albert Memorial. These acts strip ‘sexuality of all functionality, whether biological or social; in an even more extreme fashion than ‘normal’ sexuality, (they put) the body and the world of objects to uses that have nothing to do with any kind of “immanent” design or purpose.’ Achilles, Dimoetes, Herod, Greenlee, von Cosel, Bertrand and even Queen Victoria show that ‘[t]here is no form of human sexuality which does not marginalise need or substitute a fantasmatic object for the original and nutritive object.’ Maybe the necrophile, symbolic or not, discovers that ‘the deepest chords of humanity are better struck through a dedicated artificiality than a simulation of humanness.’

 

 

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From Necronaut – Sergeant Bertrand ~

In May of 1847, back in Paris with his regiment, Bertrand’s desires overcame his caution. After walking around Père Lachaise Cemetery, scoping out access points, he decided to come back one evening. The cemetery, popular since the remains of the tragic twelfth century lovers Abélard and Héloïse had been transferred there in 1817, had walls surrounding it, but around 9pm, one June night, Bertrand climbed over and prowled the paths between the graves and tombs looking for an opportunity to exercise his dark ideas. He found a common grave that would allow him easy access and began to dig. Beneath the soil, he found the body of a forty-year-old woman. He disembowelled her and cut the entrails ‘into a thousand pieces’; this satisfied him enough and he did not sexually abuse the corpse. Over the next two weeks, his obsession brought him to the cemetery most evenings, where he would dig up women and cut up their entrails but not sexually assault them – the mutilation being enough for orgasm – masturbating while fondling the disembowelled organs or part of the corpse. He would then re-bury the body parts. One night, disturbed by guards who threatened to shoot him, he explained his way out of the predicament by saying he had drunk too much and fallen asleep in the cemetery. This encounter with authorities scared him off for a time until his regiment left for Soissons in Picardy, but there the cemetery proved impossible to break into at night.
—-Interpreting Marx’s analysis of the 1848 French Revolution and capitalism, Slavoj Žižek could be writing about Bertrand when he talks of an ‘actual corrosive power which undermines all particular lifeworlds, cultures, and traditions, cutting across them, catching them in its vortex.’ In February 1848, just days before the end of the Orléans monarchy and the establishment of the Second Republic, Bertrand’s personal vortex overwhelmed him with the urge to mutilate a body. Stationed in the northern town of Douai, on the 10th of March, after the bugle call at 8pm, Bertrand climbed the regiment’s compound walls and swam across a wide and deep ditch filled with icy water. Once in the cemetery, he exhumed the body of a teenage girl, the first corpse with which he had full sexual intercourse. He fondled the fifteen-year-old’s dead flesh, kissed her all over, hugged her passionately, caressed her breasts and buttocks. After 15 minutes of making love to the body, in the throes of an indescribable passion, he mutilated the girl and ripped out her viscera. He then re-interred the body and once again swam through the icy ditch and scaled the ruined walls of his barracks.
—-This escalation in Bertrand’s necrophiliac desires results in an increase in his exhumation of and intercourse with corpses. In Lille, from late March over a period of a month, he disinterred four women and has sexual intercourse with their bodies before eviscerating and mutilating them. On a few occasions, the hardness of the ground made it impossible for him to dig up corpses, this happened in Doullens in early July, the summer sun baking the earth until Bertrand tore his nails trying to dig his way down. At the end of July, back in Paris, in the middle of the 1848 revolution, the guards at the regiment’s camp at Ivry-sur-Seine had it under lockdown, but Bertrand’s desires meant he had to escape. Each night, he found a way out and made his way to Montparnasse cemetery. On the 25th of July, he disinterred and had sex with the badly decomposed body of a twelve-year-old girl; after disembowelling her and mutilating her genitals, he masturbated over the corpse. One night, he dug up two bodies and carried them to a tomb where he would not be disturbed by the armed guards. He had sex with the body of a sixty-year-old woman, but left the corpse of a three-year-old girl untouched.
—-Were these acts sexual reproductions of the violence in French and European culture at the time? Marx wrote of the June days of the 1848 revolution that ‘The tricolour republic now bears only one colour, the colour of the defeated, the colour of blood. It has become the red republic’, that ‘the Paris of the proletariat burned, bled and moaned in its death agony’, and that ‘The June revolution is the ugly revolution, the repulsive revolution, because realities have taken the place of words, because the republic has uncovered the head of the monster itself by striking aside the protective, concealing crown.’ Did the fomentation of social revolt lead to a fermentation of sexual rebellion, of revolting erotic desires?

 

 

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NecroCinema – Prohibition, Inhibition, Exhibition ~

Norman Bates and Leatherface are monstrous realisations of our own repressive desires and, concurrently, manifestations of oppressive economic transferences of otherness. In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the two couples are split up (literally and viscerally in one case), their sexual and potentially familial normality sundered. Leatherface’s ‘family’, ostensibly driven to cannibalism by the mechanical automation of the slaughterhouse – their ‘otherness’ played out in their unemployment and their necrophagy – threaten the status quo, threaten the perception of the human in its emancipated desires. Both monsters – Norman and Leatherface (and Bertrand by association) – represent their particular culture in crisis. All attempt to annihilate women from their twisted all-male families, or Bertrand’s military substitute. Bates, Leatherface, and Bertrand deny the human, deny the possibilities of normality, of capitalist society, and of reproduction.
—-For Bates, Leatherface, and Bertrand, the society (and family) they resided in was under threat from outside sources – Communism, America’s defeat in Vietnam, revolutionary France. They react to this rupture by living transgressive versions of the family (society’s minimalist mirror) as an animadversion of the existing culture and status quo. The family as reproductive unit – re-upping workers for capitalism’s existence, re-supplying subjects of its oppressive/repressive hegemony and ontology – becomes subverted by the assimilation of taboo as moral standard. An increase in capitalist productivity – what I will call object-productivity – means a deterritorialisation of the worker from the workplace – Norman’s unvisited motel as pleasure-principle prosthesis, Leatherface’s dream/nightmare house of cannibalistic production, Bertrand as inverted agent of capitalist power, Grossmann, Denke, Haarmann, and Kürten’s unemployment and/or work as butchers. (In their occupation as soldiers and/or butchers, Bertrand and the others are employed in professions of suspended taboo.) Bates’s repressed sexuality and childlike innocence, Leatherface’s retardation and muteness, Bertrand’s obsession, the Weimar killers’ disenfranchisement, all point to an inherent otherness directly opposite normal social experience and behaviour. Bertrand’s transgression of taboo is the more extreme as he – as a sergeant – embodies the protective agent of economic and political control. The transgressions of Bates, Leatherface, Bertrand, Kürten and co., evident in their relationships with animals – evisceration (Norman’s taxidermy), mutilation (Bertrand’s pubescent experiments), bestiality (Kürten’s goats and sheep), object-productivity (the work of the butcher) – represent a break with taboo formation. Once taboos are instilled, humans separate from the animal; once transgressed, the transgressor makes a return to the animal – the unrestrained violence, the sex, the death. These transgressors commit necrophilia, necrophagy, and necrosadism as a means of reproducing the initial breaking of a taboo. Their means of production is death, a perverse anti-capitalism, an eroticism of entropy and annihilation.
—-The sound of grunting, metal in earth and on stone, the eroticised exertion of the exhumation, the black sheet of night covering the ingress until flashbulbs pornographise the bodies – close ups of deliquescing flesh, bones protruding through rotting skin, phallus penetrating vagina, phallic fingers and toes through vaginal mouths and eye sockets, the decomposing flesh wet as if oiled for lubrication. A human face, mouth open, teeth exposed – the agony and the ecstasy. These are close-ups of bodies dug from graves. A cemetery – in the middle, two exhumed bodies posed on a tombstone in sexual congress. At home in both Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the killer had preserved the body of a mother. Writers Robert Bloch and Thomas Harris, and directors Alfred Hitchcock, Tobe Hooper, and Jonathan Demme, used as their inspiration for Norman Bates, Leatherface (including his extended family), and Jame ‘Buffalo Bill’ Gumb, the true story of one of the twentieth century’s most infamous necrophiles – Ed Gein.

 

 

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From NecroSuperstar ~

This necrophile had no use for cramped space, for secrecy, had no real fear of capture. If Christie, Gein, and West were secretive, furtive, inadequate men with problems around intimacy and impotence, Ted Bundy was brash, intelligent, and a relentless murderer and necrophile wandering the American landscape desensitised; a desiring machine in pursuit of sex and death, reterritorialising the cellar and the grave from stasis and enclosure into space and movement. Space initiates intimacy, topos becomes an extension of self, even detached intimacy means the other in the ‘place’ of the self, in place of the self. Movement, being on the road and voyaging, replaces topos with chaos, the self continually reterritorialised in search of the constantly fleeing interchangeable other. Gein used a pick-up truck to transport bodies from the cemetery to the farmhouse; West used vans to transport unconscious yet living women to his cellar. Ted Bundy as the symptom, his Volkswagen as a fetish, an impulse image (a sexual and violent energy), his use of fake plaster casts on his limbs to lure his victims into dis-location, a liminal world between desire and fear, where ultimately the reterritorilisation becomes deterritorialisation, the locus over-riding the topos. For Bundy, the location of his victim’s corpse became a place of sexual fulfilment, a necrophiliac pilgrimage to a place (locus) where he was able to re-enact his desires, relive his power: ‘You’re looking into their eyes and basically, a person in that situation is God! You then possess them and they shall forever be a part of you. And the grounds where you kill them or leave them become sacred to you and you will always be drawn back to them.’
—-Within the states of Washington and Utah, Bundy had created a ‘land of oblivion.’ His blotted-out time, the dislocation of grandmother/mother/sister, absent father/present father/present grandfather/absent father, the rejection by and rejection of his would-be wife (sister/mother) forced a covetousness of nothingness, of the sister/mother/wife made oblivious. By raping, killing, and dis(re)membering the victims, he made them filthy and allowed himself to feel ‘A sudden impulse and an impossible need – these annihilate the heaviness of the world.’ The murders – the flash of light he feels when the need is upon him – brings together the two poles of loved sister/mother/wife with the reject/abject mother/sister/wife. The lust murders are discharged in the thunder of the crowbar, the flames of the fires in which he incinerated the skulls. For Ted Bundy, these were moments of revelation freeing himself from repression, rejection, and reduplication. ‘But what is primal repression? Let us call it the ability of the speaking being, always already haunted by the Other, to divide, reject, repeat. Without one division, one separation, one subject/object having been constituted (not yet, or no longer yet). Why? Perhaps because of maternal anguish, unable to be satiated within the encompassing symbolic.’
—-The encompassing symbolic, ruled by language, the name of the father – Bundy struggled within its order. He used language – manipulation/trust – as part of his MO. He also used force – power – to incapacitate the Other, so that it could no longer haunt him, no longer cause him ‘maternal anguish.’
—-Elizabeth Kendall read reports of the murders and disappearances and suspected Ted of being involved. In August 1974, she contacted police and told them of her suspicions, even providing photographs of Ted for witness identification, but nothing came of it and detectives never questioned Bundy. Because of his ability to evade capture, like West and Christie, Bundy became God in his own symbolic order. As perilous as his assistance/confrontation actions were, Bundy evolved even riskier practices to secure a victim.

 

 

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From Deadendum – NecroAesthetics ~

All art is necrophiliac. The painting/sculpture/photograph is dead until we-revitalise it with our penetrative gaze. I behold Christ in Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas and it is my visualised digits that interrogate the vulva-like wound in Christ’s side. I am the post-sodomy-coital-faeces that stains the man’s underpants in Salvador Dali’s The Lugubrious Games, I am the alien phallic codpiece in Jean Benoit’s The Necrophile (dedicated to Sergeant Bertrand). I am even Pierre Bonnard’s wife and muse Marthe/Maria, who remained a desirable 30-year-old even in her death. Bonnard repeatedly painted her as she aged, smoothing out her lines with light and colour, keeping her body preserved in pickled strontium yellow, trapping her in cadmium orange amber, covering her in yellow aspic, reanimating her again and again in and with colour. For Bonnard, time and desire lived without their flow; caught in the necrophiliac’s gaze, Marthe was resurrected in memory five years after she died, Bonnard depicting her once again soaking in the bath.
—-The mind plays games with perception, memory is its own trickster god, a Loki of loci. During the late 1980s, Richard Prince created a series he called ‘’Monochromatic Jokes’ these comprised large silkscreened canvases – a kind of pun in themselves on Colour Field paintings – with jokes written in a contrasting colour – as if Groucho had painted Rothko. Most of the jokes are what is known as Borscht-Belt jokes such as, ‘I went to a psychiatrist, he said, “Tell me everything.” I did, and now he’s doing my act.’ And I vividly remember one of these jokes, green on a pink background, which read, ‘How can you tell your wife is dead? The sex is the same but the dishes start piling up.’ But I could not find it anywhere. Like the dead wife, it no longer existed. But I was so sure I had seen it that I spent a whole day searching for it. I finally found something similar. In the first minute of the fifth episode of Matthew Collings’s 1998 television documentary This Is Modern Art, Richard Prince stands in his studio reading jokes to the camera from sheets of paper, and the necrophilia joke elicits laughter from the TV crew. But that’s not what I remember. Digging deeper, I finally unearthed the corpse of the joke, the object of my desire, a neon construction mounted in Perspex with transformers by the British artist Jonathan Monk, The Sex is the Same but the Dishes Start to Pile up, 2008, (48.9 cm × 214.6 cm × 4.5 cm). According to the Lisson Gallery, ‘Monk replays, recasts and re-examines seminal works of Conceptual and Minimal art by variously witty, ingenious and irreverent means.’ Monk recontextualises works by Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, Bruce Nauman and others, aestheticising the principle of necrophilia by repurposing, re-desiring dead works of art and revitalising the concept of the original work. Dead bodies as receptacles of desire.
—-In The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World by Elaine Scarry, she writes, ‘This dissolution of the boundary between inside and outside gives rise to a fourth aspect of the felt experience of physical pain, an almost obscene conflation of private and public.’294 And that is very similar to the event of necrophilia, particularly in the cases of Sergeant Bertrand and Gao Chengyong, who mutilated the corpses they had sex with. The body – the site of desire, the organs – the site of disgust – has its boundaries dissolved, inside is outside and, conversely, the sites of sexual desire – the mouth, the vulva, the penis, the hand, the breasts, the buttocks – are no longer primary but are supplemented/ supplanted with/by the intestines, the bladder, the stomach; the viscera, become the voluptuous agent of the transgressor. The sexual organs are multiplied, giving rise to an exponential aspect of the body’s experience of sexual pleasure, an obscene conflation of the hidden and the manifest. This is similar to Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque’s Cubism, in which instead of portraying objects from a singular viewpoint, the artist chooses to depict the subject from various perspectives in order to present a more comprehensive understanding of the subject within a broader context.

 

 

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Special acknowledgement

White modelling wax casts illustrating this volume were produced between December 2023 and March 2024 at Urbaniak’s studio in Chelsea, London. Special thanks to Nadia Murray, NeoFung, Marina Teodora and Martin Bladh for participating in the silicone moulding process. Their open-mindedness and physical endurance have been essential to the realisation of this project.

 

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https://www.infinitylandpress.com/
https://karolinaurbaniak.com/
@karolina_ursula_urbaniak
@stevefinbow

 

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p.s. Hey. Today the blog hopes to focus your attention on a fascinating book about necrophilia by the noted and brainy scribe Steve Finbow. Originally published in 2014, it has just been reissued in an expanded and much beautified edition by those masters of the seductive book/object Infinity Land Press. They’re also masters of the seductive blog post/object as you can see by the beauty they put together for us today. Be attentive and ravished please. Many thanks to IFP for the gift(s). ** Corey Heiferman, Happy to open the Farocki door. You sure sound good and on the best track. Yeah, I think you have to think that ‘ahead’ is the natural destination and not the goal posts or something. Escape the heat. I really need to get back into riding bikes. ** Lucas Hi, Lucas. I hope you left bleakness in the dust. We actually started working on a documentary about 10 years ago about the great Japanese fog sculptor Fujiko Nakaya. We shot a lot of footage and traveled around in Europe and to Japan and the US documenting her works, but she didn’t want to be interviewed for the film, and we couldn’t figure out how to make the film without that. So we have a lot of material if we can ever figure out a way to make something with it. We’d like to. The new script is inching forward. Sadly, and as usual, there’s a whole of crap going on with the producers of RT and funding right now that is eating us up. We’re mostly trying to get past that. What a lovely bird in an ideal place and lustrously represented by you. Thank you. I needed that serenity. Hm, let’s see … okay, here’s an amazing chocolate cake sculpture that my friends and I bought and devoured last Xmas that tasted easily as impressive as it looked. ‘Ada, or Ardor’ is a fascinating and curious book, for sure, but I’m not certain it’s the place to start with Nabokov, although it won’t waste your time by any means. ‘Pale Fire’ is my favorite of his, and I guess I’d suggest it? I hope your day was mega and even meta. ** _Black_Acrylic, So happy you liked it, and I again have to report that PTv2 was delayed another day (until today, for sure) due to yesterday being an absolute shitshow on my end. Thanks, I’ll hit up Popbitch. If I’d read it decades ago, I might even know who all the flash celebrities were. ** Cletus, The book is everything he managed to write. Well, poetry-wise. Not having to go through publication via social media can also be a great plus. Be hopeful, just keep in mind that when you first start publishing, it’s very rare that critics/people really get what you’re doing and its originality. That can take a while. ** Don Waters, Hi, Don. Congrats on the teaching time off. Haha, Aol, wow, it’s been a while. Yes, my email is denniscooper72@outlook.com. Which Handke did you get? I don’t think I know Iris Owens. I’ll check her out, thanks! NadaDada Motel sounds fun. There’s this island in Japan, Naoshima, that’s known as the ‘art island’. There’s a village/town there, and whenever a resident dies or moves away, their home is given to an artist, often a very famous one, to turn into an artwork, inside and/or out. So you walk around the town with map looking for the homes/artworks. It’s pretty great. ** Dominik, Hi!!! I’m gonna try downloading a book from zLib in the next couple of days and see what happens and hope some ‘you must be a member’ pop-up doesn’t appear. There must be a band called Mangle, no? If not, we should start one. Poor addicted love, although I can feel that. Love not having been tempted to watch a movie called ‘Under Paris’ that was billed as being about a giant shark in the Seine that was destroying Paris because it was in fact only about some ecologists trying to lead a lost shark in the Seine back to the ocean, and love got duped, and it was dreadful, G. ** Steve, I’m about to test zLib mach 2 and find out. Fingers crossed. ** Misanthrope, Pétanque does look kind of fun, although I think it probably means something that you never see anyone under the age of 60 playing it. Other than Sinner I don’t know who those other names are. I don’t know if I want to know. Tennis is a big gulp. ** Harper, Whew, about the saved money. That must feel good. Nothing like getting past a money problem, for me at least. My landlord lives in the apartment below mine, and for a long time he was knocking on my door every few days and yelling at me to stop using a chainsaw in the middle of the night, and, of course, I don’t have a chain saw, and I go to sleep at 10 pm, but I had to invite him and let him look in every corner and drawer in my apartment to prove that I don’t have sa chainsaw. And that final stopped him, although I assume he stills hears an imaginary chainsaw. Speaking for me, optimism will save your life or at least add some years to it. Don’t smoke. Chew that gum. ** Bobbie Whyagent, I … don’t know that musical, but, honestly, I am not very familiar with the ‘musical’ form of art. The only musicals I like that I can think of are ‘Threepenny Opera’, ‘The Music Man’, and maybe ‘Sweeney Todd’. ** Shirley, Hi, Shirley. Ah, Barbara Streisand! Now that makes a a lot of sense. If my friend wasn’t dead, I would confront him about that. ** Dev, You’re gonna raise a little gangsta there. I have never actually listened to Drive By Truckers. Isn’t that weird? I don’t even know what they sound like, although their name presumably offers some clues. I will listen and end my ignorance in their regard. Have fun! ** Uday, Wow, nice: Benjamin via Farocki. I for one am very impressed. You never cease to amaze. I agree with you about writing, and with Fran Lebowitz apparently. I had dinner with her once, and she was, yes, hilarious. I think no on the Collected Dennis Cooper Correspondence. Jeez, what a scary idea, haha. ** Justin D, Hi. They are, really. But don’t get me started on the virtues of gifs because I could go on and on. Not off the top of my head, but let me think about that — books like ‘TMS’ or ‘Period’. Interesting question. Wait, Robert Pinget’s ‘Fable’ in way? And maybe Agota Kristof’s sublime novel trilogy ‘The Book of Lies’ (‘The Notebook’, ‘The Proof’, ‘The Third Lie’)? which I always recommend to everyone. No, thank you! What else is new with you? ** Oscar 🌀, Haha, I have some casting suggestions should they need some input, which I’m sure they don’t. 1., 2., 3. Happy you liked Farocki’s stuff. He’s incredible. And Kye’s work. Yes, I’m hoping he turns me into the scary, erotic, charismatic creature that I secretly am deep down in my well-guarded soul. Chill vibes are very appreciated on this trepidatious seeming Thursday. Best day, hm, you have a point. I hope your Thursday is nothing less than day-long Xmas morning would be to a rich kid 6 year old. ** Darby🐛, Caterpillar? Or centipede? Centipedes are terrifying, am I wrong? I had a deja vu just the other day. I hadn’t had one in, like, years. It seemed like a good sign. Great luck to Stella. Can she already fly planes? Art is the thing that’s wrong, not you. Love that bear, duh. Bats, yes, about five of them last time I checked. Still flying in high speed circles at dusk (which is currently around 9:30 pm). You’d like them. They’re very stylish. ** Okay. Back you go into Steve Finbow’s book and its evidence. See you tomorrow.

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