The blog of author Dennis Cooper

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Oliver presents … Lu Xun *

* (restored)


Zhou Shuren was born in 1881 to a wealthy family in Zhejiang province. By 1918 he had seen his grandfather disgraced and nearly beheaded for bribery, watched his father slowly die due to the ineptitude of traditional Chinese medicine, and, while studying medicine in Japan, saw a series of photographs showing a group of Chinese passively watching the beheading of one of their countrymen by a Japanese soldier. This latter event changed his life, and Zhou gave up on his ambition to become a doctor and instead took up writing.

“I no longer believed in the overwhelming importance of medical science. However rude a nation was in physical health, if its people were intellectually feeble, they would never become anything other than cannon fodder or gawping spectators, their loss to the world through illness no cause for regret. The first task was to change their spirit; and literature and the arts, I decided at the time, were the best means to this end. And so I reinvented myself as a crusader for cultural reform.”

Under the pen name Lu Xun, he wrote ambiguously ironic short stories and incisive political articles. He never wrote a novel, but worked tirelessly in almost every other literary form including translation, poetry, criticism and essays. Mao was one of his greatest admirers and after his death he became an icon of the Chinese Communist Party, although Lu had never joined the CCP and might be better understood politically as a liberal. Despite his canonisation, the ironic subtlety of his writing was unwelcome in Communist China. Mao wrote that “…the style of the essay should not simply be like Lu Xun’s. [In a Communist society] we can shout at the top of our voices and have no need for veiled and round-about expressions, which are hard for the people to understand”. However, his work has been part of the school syllabus for many years and most Chinese will be familiar enough with Lu’s stories to casually describe someone as being an Ah-Q or a Kong Yiji.

Lu Xun marks the beginning of modernism in Chinese literature. His work straddles two worlds; the dying Qing dynasty that would be swept away by revolution and the unsteady Republic that replaced it. As Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote, “Lu Xun is critically regarded as the most accomplished modern writer of the most populous nation on earth, and a grasp of his work is thus extremely useful in forming an understanding of much of humanity.”



Short stories

Diary of a Madman

Lu Xun’s first work written in Chinese vernacular (aka simplified Mandarin), Diary of a Madman shows both his affinity for foreign fiction – Diary is of course influenced by Gogol’s short story – and his ability for weaving criticisms of Chinese society within compelling narratives. Lu was infatuated was fiction from other countries. His advice to China’s youth was to “read no Chinese books. Or as few as you can. But read more foreign books.”

The Diary itself is a false document, presented as a medical curiosity in Lu’s preface (written in traditional Chinese). The protagonist slowly begins to see the whole of Chinese history as being secretly cannibalistic, his writing twisting within a paranoid fever.

“I will offer, as something like the supreme example of this process of allegorization, the first masterwork of China’s greatest writer, Lu Xun, whose neglect in western cultural studies is a matter of shame which no excuses based on ignorance can rectify. […] What is reconstructed [in Diary of a Madman] is a grisly and terrifying objective real world beneath the appearances of our own world: an unveiling or deconcealment of the nightmarish reality of things, a stripping away of our conventional illusions or rationalizations about daily life and existence.” – Frederic Jameson





One of Lu’s tales of the woes of Chinese medicine. A couple with a consumptive son stake their last hopes on a blood-soaked bun bought from a practitioner of that ancient art. The quest to get hold of the cure is told in a dream-like mystical manner, and the possibility of the spirit world is tantalisingly held – up until the last, cruel moment.

“[H]e rarely depicts problems with the accustomed logic of the real world, but does so rather with methods such as prophesy in reverse, reductio ad absurdum, falsification, pointed mockery and curse, to tear up the given logic of this world and to show it to people in laughter.” – Wang Hui




The Real Story of Ah-Q

Have you ever known anyone who manages to convince themselves that they have won, even when they have lost? Then you’ve met an Ah-Q. Pompously optimistic, cowardly, self-satisfied and stupid, Ah-Q is Lu Xun’s most searing satire on Chinese society. His blankness above all reflects that which Lu saw in the faces watching the execution in the photograph. Ah-Q’s name itself is one of blankness; ‘Ah’ (阿) being potentially both a respectful and disrespectful diminutive, and ‘Q’ not only stands for a character the author can’t remember, but also possibly for the queue worn by males under Manchu rule. The letter Q itself perhaps represents the blank face and long pigtail of the hero.

Ah-Q’s character traits, from his prudish misogyny to his meek acceptance of his fate, are all backed up by a half-remembered Confucianism, and told in a deeply ironic mock-heroic style by Lu Xun.

“[The Real Story of Ah-Q] shows the capacity of allegory to generate a range of distinct meanings or messages, simultaneously, as the allegorical tenor and vehicle change places: Ah Q is China humiliated by the foreigners, a China so well versed in the spiritual techniques of self-justification that such humiliations are not even registered, let alone recalled. But the persecutors are also China, in a different sense, the terrible self-cannibalistic China of the ‘Diary of a Madman,’ whose response to powerlessness is the senseless persecution of the weaker and more inferior members of the hierarchy.” – Frederic Jameson






Lu Xun wanted to “be a mirror for the present, a record for the future” and in this regard his essays are as important as his short stories. He saw his mission in life as being devoted to saving the Chinese people, but he was not a romantic. A severe critic who did not believe in forgiveness or ‘fair play’, Lu had the unsentimental air of a contemptuous doctor diagnosing the maladies of the people while begrudging their foolishness for not following the cure. In contrast to the latter Maoist era that he would not live to see, he criticised the left and the right when he saw their failings.

His love of foreign literature did not blunt his abilities as a critic. Ibsen’s The Doll House was at that time seen as being about ‘female liberation’, due to Nora’s climactic flight from her poisonous family. Lu simply asked, “What happens after Nora leaves home?” He recognised that it took more than grand individual gestures to change societal injustices.

“Revolution is a bitter thing, mixed with filth and blood, not as lovely or perfect as poets think.”

“In an increasingly specialized state of knowledge, in a cultural condition that has become increasingly controlled by the rules of the market and consumerist culture, Lu Xun’s acute sensitivity to social injustice, his profound criticism of the relations between knowledge and society, his continual concern with the relationship between culture and the public, his flexible cultural practice – all re-create in these new historical conditions the possibility for the intellectual’s ‘organicity’. This is the tradition of the great Chinese intellectual” – Wang Hui



Lu Xun’s Final Testament

If I were a great nobleman with a huge fortune, my sons, sons-in-law, and others would have forced me to write a will long ago, whereas nobody has mentioned it to me. Still, I may as well leave one. I seem to have thought out quite a few items for my family, among which are:


1. Don’t accept a cent from anyone for the funeral. This does not apply to old friends.
2. Get the whole thing over quickly. Have me buried and be done with it.
3. Do nothing in the way of commemoration.
4. Forget me and look after your own affairs–if you don’t, you are just too silly.
5. When the child grows up, if he has no gifts let him take some small job to make a living. On no account let him become a writer or artist in name alone.
6. Don’t take other people’s promises seriously.
7. Never mix with people who injure others but who oppose revenge and advocate tolerance.

There were other items, too, but I have forgotten them.

I remember also that during a fever I recalled that when a European is dying these is usually some sort of ceremony in which he asks pardon of others and pardons them. Now, I have a great many enemies, and what should my answer be if some modernized person asked me my views on this? After some thought I decided: Let them go on hating me. I shall not forgive a single one of them, either.

No such ceremony took place, however, and I did not draw up a will. I simply lay there in silence, struck sometimes by a more pressing thought: If this is dying, it isn’t really painful. It may not be quite like this at the end, of course; but still, since this happens only once in a lifetime, I can take it.




China’s Greatest Dissident Writer: Dead but Still Dangerous
Selected essays (in English)
Sunday in the Park with Lu Xun
Lu Xun, An Outsider’s Chats about Written Language
Follow the Footsteps of Lu Xun
Lu Xun: Father of Modern Chinese Literature





Lu Xun in his youth


Lu Xun as a graduate student at Columbia University in the U.S.


Lu Xun and Maozedong


Lu Xun addressing the masses in Beijing


Lu Xun with G.B. Shaw. “As we stood side by side, I was conscious of my shortness. And I thought: thirty years ago, I should have done exercises to increase my height.”


Lu Xun’s funeral


Woodcuts of Ah-Q by Zhao Yannian (1980)


A young Lu Xun translated Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and wrote an unforgettable slogan in his preface, “Leading the Chinese people forward begins with science fiction!


Tomb of Lu Xun


This post was culled from various sources, especially Julia Lovell’s translation of The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Stories (which I highly recommend – it’s cheap!). See also the Lu Xun wiki and this biographical site.



p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Ha, if you say so. Has there ever been a moment when Ben Affleck was interesting when he was doing anything? ** Golnoosh, Hi, Golnoosh! Thank you so much again for the honor of being on your show. It was great fun and much more. I’m glad the asses in my post raised your appreciation of the ass. My favorite? Hm, I hadn’t thought about it. I do like those little Japanese kids getting ‘flushed’ down the giant toilet for some reason. I hope your weekend was a good one. Ours here was pretty much ruined by our psychotic, ongoing heatwave, but I got some writing done somehow. Awesome beginning to your week! ** Misanthrope, Did you? Huh. Oh, wait, happy birthday! G(e)orge on that quite delicious sounding cake for one thing. Get any good presents? My weekend was just trying to survive in what amounted to a giant bbq disguised as a city scape. But I survived. ** Daniel, Daniel! Always, always a total and great boon to have you here! What’s up, maestro? Thank you for the adds! Especially the one to your much missed blog. Everyone, Daniel Portland, occasional blog visitor and full time genius artist, has given us a few ass adds. They are: Yoko Ono. Film No. 4. 1966–67, a pic of a few books including his own ‘Booties That Matter’ here, and a trip to a great little ass-y post on his long dormant but still stellar blog. Here. Thank you so much! ** chris dankland, Hi, Chris! Yeah, discovering the ass lasers is what made me decide to make a post to house them basically. I know, I admit I am still proud of my adolescent cleverness in coming up with ‘Flunker’. Maybe I should use that as a novel title or something. You saw that old Dutch doc. I wonder if that still exists anywhere. That school, Flintridge Preparatory School for Boys, went from 5th grade to 12th grade. I went there from 8th grade to 11th grade when I got expelled. That’s a very interesting background story re: your life at that age. That must have been strange: the big switch. God about your schooling’s first week. Hoping that luck hangs around. You know, stupidly and for no good reason, I still haven’t seen ‘Mandy’. I’m gonna find it. Thanks! I hope your morning is a revelatory whirlwind of a thing. ** JoeM, Hi. During the months where Google had killed my blog and I was fighting to get it back, I made a pretty wide plea asking if anyone had archived the blog, and no one had. So I think the bulk of it that I haven’t yet restored exists only in a jumble on my hard drive. Like I said, I will try to restore an SPD. But, seriously, it will be a huge headache amount of work to find and gather and reconstitute everything. Even just restoring normal dead posts is very time consuming. I will definitely never ask you about Israel and Palestine, that’s for sure, ha ha. I love Ivor Cutler. I’ll go find ‘I’m Happy’. Thanks. ** _Black_Acrylic, I’m pretty sure you are exactly on the money there. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yes, one wonders. I’ve seen even more outrageous things posted on Facebook that don’t get removed and far, far less outrageous things that get their uploaders ‘jailed’ for a week. As I’m sure you have too. I vaguely remember the existence of the Lake Goose Music Festival back then. Didn’t know there was a doc. I’ll probably watch that. I like that new Shirley Collins. It’s pretty. Yes, I’m following the scariness in Poland. Being in the EU with them, the goings-on there are big, regular news in the French media. It’s truly awful. I hope that uprising helps. Hard to hope though from what I understand. ** Bill, Ha, yes. As I told Chris up above, finding that Young Boys Dancing Group thing basically caused me to make the post so I would have an excuse to include it. Our miserable heatwave is scheduled to continue its attempted murder of us Parisians through Wednesday. Damn, I always miss that Bandcamp day. Fuck. The name John Frame rings a bell. I’m not sure if I know this stuff. I’ll go watch that vid in about 1 minute and a half from now. Happy Monday. ** Okay. Today I restore this very old, formerly dead, and pretty great post made by a long MIA blog d.l. and excellent fella/artist named Oliver. Enjoy. See you tomorrow.


Cheryl Donegan Butt Print, Kiss My Royal Irish Ass (1993)
Performance July 3, 1993, synthetic polymer paint on paper


Seymour Dog Butt (2013)
‘‘Dog’s Butt’, pleasingly symmetrical black and white photographs on iridescent ‘special’ wedding-invitation paper, give criteria of aesthetic judgement a work out. A rally between formal propriety and irreverent smirks, it’s a tail-end challenge to good taste. Aesthetic principles are demoted below economy of materials and efficiency of process. The desktop laminator, with its A4 constraint and auto-framing effect, is the freedom of restriction. Seymour locks down the process to free up the channels of decision-making.’


Young Boy Dancing Group @ Chapter 10 (2017)
‘Young Boy Dancing Group challenges gender and sexuality with lasers in their anal sphincters whose performances are a mishmash of queerness and techno-futurism that could only exist in our digital age.’


Robert Gober Untitled (Torso) (1999)
‘Gober posits the human condition as an equivalence between the creations of the mind and of the gut, most potently in Untitled (1990), a waxwork of naked buttocks printed with a musical score and punctuated by a light brown hole.’


Toilet!? – Human Waste & Earth’s Future (2014)
‘Donning special shit-shaped caps, children line up to get flushed down the toilet.’


Katarina Janeckova He is interested in her Butt and all she cares about is Art (2013)
‘For me, the bear is a perfect substitute for a man. Sometimes I depict the bear as a lover, voyeur, playful cub, perverted old bear or as a symbol of protection. It’s also for my own amusement. I love to create stories and relationships between the figures I paint. I paint those bears as simple, strange dark figures, because it allows you to fantasize. The monolithic black surface of the bear also gives the eye a place to rest among all the colors and wild brush strokes of the painting. Sometimes, I give them glasses or eyes and blushing cheeks to outline a little more about their character or mood.’


Melani de Luca Post-Butt (2018)
‘Melani de Luca’s book Post-Butt looks beyond a good looking arse focusing on the “virality of images in our mediated society”. It’s a book that started from personal curiosity after noticing the “omnipresence of the butt on different channels, especially Instagram and music videos,” she tells It’s Nice That. But what Melani particularly noticed was how much the image and placement of butts had altered over the last 20 years. “The camera got lower, the frames that show the butt last longer and the face is often cut or even completely out of the picture,” she says. Research followed and a theory developed: “the rise of the butt in media was not accidental”.

‘However rather than just posing this as a topic for discussion, Melani developed a book on the subject from her urge to open a platform on the subject. “The images of the butt are embedded in our culture and therefore have a huge influence on society and individual behaviour,” she explains. “Even though music and dance are primarily seen as entertainment, they have an indirect or sometimes direct political function. We could think that the phenomenon of the butt-selfie, also known as ‘belfie’, might be absurd, but the analysis of recent history make it suddenly appear logical. The virality of the buttocks starts from the digital domain but it has repercussions in the physical world.”’


Wang Haiyang Party in the Anus (2018)
‘In Wang Haiyang’s video work, Party in the Anus, an ambiguously gendered figure gyrates and dances with reckless abandon in what appears to be the fleshy vortex of an anus. Echoing the anal spiral into nothingness, the dimly-lit room is carpeted in a whirling black-and-white optical illusion. Ensconced in a full-body suit that masks even their face, the figure appears to relish the debased, scatological environment, embracing what Leo Bersani might perceive as the body’s receptacle of death and disease. For Wang, partying in the anus at the end of the world is a productive proposition.’



Nicole Eisenman Procession (2019–2020)
‘The giant in “Perpetual Motion Machine” has gone fishin’, his tuna catch (a bunch of old Bumble Bee cans) dangle heavily from a pole as he tugs a trolly with his free hand. But its wheels are square, a playful detail which might get overlooked, though it means missing the greater point Eisenman is trying to make about societal square pegs in proverbial round holes. In the ultimate act of public humiliation, a naked form adorns the trolley, head bowed while on his hands and knees, wearing only a pair of New York Giants socks. Brightly knit with red, white, and blue (Rangers team colors), the scandal of Eliot Spitzer as Client 9 immediately comes to mind. The figure’s ass, overgrown with sheared wool fleece, lets out a loud, smokey fart every few minutes. (A fog machine has been installed in his anus.) The fart plume is every fifth-grade boy’s laughing delight, and it seems to work well in a room of art snoots, too. If you find yourself unimpressed by the literal butt of this joke, the trolley’s bumper sticker conveys a message direct from the artist: HOW’S MY SCULPTING? CALL 1-800-EAT-SHIT. (The bumper stickers are for sale in the museum’s gift shop.)’


Odd Nerdrum Twilight (1981)
‘I had seen some of his paintings in the beginning, I didn’t really like them, I was not very interested. But then I meet him by accident on a street in Oslo. And he tells me where he is living and it was just a five minute walk from my hotel. And he invites me to come to his house. I go to his house, and we go to the garage. And there he had a huge painting which at that time was called “A Woman Shitting in the Woods.” Life itself is a kind of realism. And life itself is very cruel. Every man goes to the toilet, once a day, he sits down and he shits. Like an animal, you know. Then he cleans, washes his hands, and walks out and he is no more an animal. Then, I really discovered him. Then I started to connect with his painting and understand what he was doing.’ 


Kurt Vonnegut Asshole/Asterik (1973)
‘I have seen people with Vonnegut asterisk tattoos. There is a restaurant with the symbol as its name, and there have been bands named after it too. I doubt Vonnegut knew quite the extent to which his drawing of an asshole that appears at the beginning of Breakfast of Champions would tunnel its way into the culture. But this drawing is a good example of how his images embodied more than what they appeared to represent. As an image, that asshole drawing was not lewd or provocative, and it was not meant to offend or excite. It was matter-of-fact. On the other hand, as a gesture, its aims were less than charitable. The asterisk in the novel had the effect of undercutting literary hubris, and by unleashing it in the text toward the close of the preface as an example of what is likely to come, he drew a line in the sand. With it, he was announcing, “If you are too squeamish or too sophisticated to stomach this asshole-in-the-abstract, then leave off here, worse barbs lie ahead, and if you go any further, deeper cuts would no doubt be in store for the likes of you.” In the late ’60s, members of the band the Sex Pistols swore on live TV and sent half of the UK into uproar. If viewers were shocked by a handful of expletives, there would be no point in them listening to that band’s music or any other punk music for that matter. It would only get more real from there on in. That instance of profanity during the moment of the band’s introduction to the world stage also served as a line in the sand, and like the asterisk, hovered like a warning to all ye who may come.’


Cary Leibowitz (“Candy Ass”) Bird Talk (and butt) (1989)
‘Since his emergence in the 1990s (when he went by the moniker “Candy Ass”), Cary Leibowitz has styled himself as a self-loathing, reluctant artist. Through this cleverly crafted persona, he critiques the pretentiousness of the art world and the commodification of art. He also foregrounds his gay and Jewish identity, exploring how it places him outside of mainstream American society. His work—which encompasses prints, paintings, sculpture, and installation—is full of humor and pathos. He often incorporates such everyday items as mugs and knitted caps into his pieces, altering them with pointed text and arranging them into unlikely forms.’


Básica TV Hemorrhoids: The Movie (2018)
‘In their longest, most prodigious work to-date—totaling over forty minutes, spanning fifteen screens, and accompanied by an installation—the Uruguayan-born art collective first questions our cultural preoccupation with butts, but more than this, asks why this is as far as we go. Katie Couric famously aired her colonoscopy on national television in 2000, but the colon was never sexy. Asses are undeniably so, and as such, are inherently linked to capital, and ultimately power. Why else would we see an onslaught of products and trends come to prominence during the same period as the rise of the ass? Juice cleanses, Activia, colonics, anal bleaching, tapeworm diets, and coffee enemas are just a few of the recent fads that oddly allude to inner workings of a sexualized exterior, but never go further. Basica goes deeper, though, making hemorr- hoids the focal point of their film. This asks us, as viewers, to come face-to-face (literally) with the highly taboo topic, urging us to question our discomfort with it.’



EPSRC The Robotic Rectum (2016)
‘A robotic rectum may help doctors and nurses detect prostate cancer. The technology, which consists of prosthetic buttocks and rectum with in-built robotic technology, has been developed by scientists at Imperial College London. The idea is the device helps train doctors and nurses to perform rectal examinations by accurately recreating the feel of a rectum, as well as providing feedback on their examination technique. The device contains small robotic arms that apply pressure to the silicone rectum, to recreate the shape and feel of the back passage.’


Judie Bamber What Do You Say? (Chrome Egg Butt Plug with Leather Thong) (1989)
Oil on canvas stretched on board


Keith Boadwee Various (1995 – 2019)
‘Boadwee simultaneously pokes fun at the language of art history while paying homage to it. The works cover a wide spectrum, from the somatic brutality of Viennese Actionism to the primary simplicity of De Stijl. There is an ambiguity in the fabrication of these paintings hinting at past performances for which Boadwee first gained recognition in the 1990s. Often using his own body as tool, medium, surface or subject, each work obfuscates the artist’s engagement in his studio—they could stand as autonomous pictorial renderings or possible documentation of a transgressive action. The viewer is invited to draw his or her own conclusions.’


Forrest Bess Various (1947 – 1967)
‘Bess arrived at painting incidentally. Following a psychologically scarring gay bashing and subsequent nervous breakdown during his service in the camouflage division of the US military, he resumed earlier artistic endeavours on the advice of an army psychiatrist.

‘Increasingly Bess was haunted by night-time visions, which he began to record in a book by his bedside. From 1946 onwards he painted principally according to these visions, rendering tense internal conflicts on sex, gender, and sexuality as obscure, oneiric forms, ones that often eluded even the artist himself. He wrote, “the canvases I paint are statements – each one is a statement of what I don’t know. I am only a conduit through which they pass and there are times I suffer because I don’t know.”

‘During the 1950s, Bess divided his time between fishing, painting, and the compilation of a ‘thesis’ centred on a proposition for the unification of the male and female sexes within a biologically male body. Bess’s ideas were inspired by numerous sources, including the traditions of Aboriginal tribespeople, Egyptian, Greek, and Chinese art, and the writings of Havelock Ellis. Around 1955, his own writings distilled in an operation he performed on his perineum, during which he created an orifice intended to receive a penis. Bess’s motivations – the prospect, he claimed, of everlasting life – were likely spurred by an emergent discourse on transsexuality that was catalysed in 1952 by the public disclosure of Christine Jorgensen’s sex reassignment surgery, the first such operation reported in America. In 1954, Bess had declared hermaphroditism “the perfect state of man”.’

“Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle” (Preview)


John Waters Haunted (2006)
Haunted involves a rephotographed video title. It reads MY ASS IS HAUNTED, snapped from a skin flick starring adult-film star Belladonna. That particular movie was not intended to entice gay male fans, although when frozen in Waters’s viewfinder, the disengaged title becomes a cheeky declaration of homosexual longing and loneliness, of mysterious anal-retentiveness.’


Riikka Hyvönen Various (2016)
‘In the competitive sport of Roller Derby, a bruise is a badge of honour to show off to your fellow team members trackside. What look here like photos are actually massive 3D leather canvasses, which artist Riikka Hyvönen layers with wood, paint and lashings of glitter, working from real images of these ‘derby kisses’.’


Manfred Erjautz Anus Tempus (2016)
Radio controlled clock Junghans Mega, brass, glass, synthetics, touch-up pen.


Veloso, Caio and Dallas Macaquinhos (2016)
‘What is it that the ring of bodies perform in Veloso, Caio and Dallas’ Macaquinhos (little monkeys). Their asses? Yes, but this word is also the slang for a woman who prefers anal over vaginal sex. For the Brazilian artists, the anus is the southern hemisphere of the body, and has the potential to function as its own democratic and collectivizing site, and as the opening of de-colonizing explorations of bodies, desires, anxieties, privacy and exposure.’


Scott Donahue Untitled (2008)
‘The City of Berkeley last year paid artist Scott Donahue $196,000 to install two sculptural groups at either end of a new pedestrian bridge across the freeway on the city’s waterfront. The two installations mostly feature large human figures doing “typical Berkeley” activities. But the artist recently added a series of small bronze bas-relief sculptures around the base of each statue. The new sculptures around the base of the westernmost statue depict, among other things, dogs going shit, fucking, and sniffing each other’s butts. You decide: Is this the best way to spend Berkeley’s taxpayer dollars?’


Claire Lambe LazyBoy (2012)
‘A pair of gold lamé disco pants placed on the floor has plump buttocks as if harbouring a body beneath. The oscillation between the alternate reading of discarded clothing or a prostrate body makes for a disturbingly compelling form. Added to which is the sexual innuendo of the title, meaning much more than a comfortable reclining chair.’


Art Workers Coalition Art Workers Won’t Kiss Ass (1969)
‘The Art Workers’ Coalition (AWC) was an open coalition of artists, filmmakers, writers, critics, and museum staff that formed in New York City in January 1969. Its principal aim was to pressure the city’s museums – notably the Museum of Modern Art – into implementing economic and political reforms. These included a more open and less exclusive exhibition policy concerning the artists they exhibited and promoted: the absence of women artists and artists of color was a principal issue of contention, which led to the formation of Women Artists in Revolution (WAR) in 1969. The coalition successfully pressured the MoMA and other museums into implementing a free admission day that still exists in certain museums to this day. It also pressured and picketed museums into taking a moral stance on the Vietnam War which resulted in its famous My Lai poster And babies, one of the most important works of political art of the early 1970s. The poster was displayed during demonstrations in front of Pablo Picasso′s Guernica at the MoMA in 1970.’


Patrick Henne Various (2016 – 2018)
‘Patrick Henne adopts the motifs of old masters such as Guido Reni, Caravaggio and Jacques-Louis David. Through the expressive and surreal colouring, along with the alteration of some details and titles, which have nothing to do with the original context, Henne transforms the paintings into grotesque, partly blasphemous and whimsical picture worlds. The paintings are the result of a lengthy process: the work of the artist and his study of art history and the examination of the respective documents form the foundation of his work. By sketching and editing the selected templates in Photoshop, he slowly approaches the desired results; color, contrast, details and background are greatly altered, varied or removed.’


Anthea Hamilton Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce) (2016)
‘If the Turner prize had been decided by Instagram, then Anthea Hamilton’s Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce) would be a shoo-in to win on Monday. Since mid-September, the UK’s favourite spot for a selfie has been beneath this pair of large, splayed buttocks. Hamilton’s photogenic piece is actually a re-creation of a 1970s proposal by the Italian architect Gaetano Pesce for a building in New York. The buttocks in question were modelled on Pesce’s friend and collaborator Ulderico Manani, who was, Pesce says, delighted to help. “Ulderico was a homosexual and also a bit of an exhibitionist, so he was quite happy to do what I asked,” says Pesce. “When you have an idea and are convinced of its quality, you have no problem communicating it.”’


Arwe Back Buttocks Stool (2016 – )
‘At the height of a successful business career, a burn-out caused Arwe to reconsider what was truly important in life.’


Salvador Dali The Enigma Of William Tell (1933)
‘Depicting Vladimir Lenin half-naked, and with a huge protruding buttock, this Salvador Dali painting seriously offended the surrealist community when it came out. This association was made worse by Dali’s appendant note. He wrote that “the buttock, of course, was the symbol of the revolution of October 1917.” When it was unveiled in 1934, many of his contemporaries tried to physically damage it, without much luck.’


Ronald Ophuis Various (1995 – 1997)
‘Two men in combat uniforms are playing with a ball in a filthy toilet,
disregarding the man crouching on the ground at their feet and bathed in a pool of blood. In a cloakroom, three teenagers hold a fourth one down on the ground and sodomise him with a (large) Coca-Cola bottle. Note that all of them are wearing the same football team uniform. These works by Ronald Ophuis are part of a series of paintings done between 1995 and 1997 and exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam in 1999 under the title ‘Five paintings about violence’. They won the artist rapid fame in the country of Vermeer, especially when he went to court to oppose the state’s demand that a child abuse scene (‘Sweet violence’) be withdrawn from a public exhibition – and won his case.’


Lloyd James Toilet Rolls (2011)
Oil on canvas


Lari Pittman Spiritual and Needy (1991)
acrylic and enamel on mahogany panel, 82 x 66″


Jonathan Monaghan Escape Pod (2015)
‘Jonathan Monaghan’s Escape Pod is an epic, seamlessly-looping 20 minute 3D animation. This magical journey follows a golden stag with a baroque anus from birth to the moment he conceives himself (?) by pooping out a cyborg penis to inseminate …something. That something is a giant set of testicles attached to an equally baroque, flying mansion with a minimalist Scandinavian penthouse. The cycle begins again with the baby stag exploring a world of stunning landscapes and duty-free shops that look like the Miami airport.’


Ron Athey Solar Anus (1998)
‘Athey’s Solar Anus draws inspiration from the excremental philosopher Georges Bataille and the erotic fetishism of Pierre Molinier. Solar Anus was shown internationally at artistic institutions and venues, as well as being performed for camera.’


Aline Bouvy and John Gillis The anus, in relation to the penis, the hand, the face (2013)
‘Belgium artists Aline Bouvy and John Gillis are contemporary artists who worked together to produce an unorthodox body of drawings that are a collage of body parts that reference the anus and other private areas of the body.’

Personalized Anus Sculpture (2012)
‘Nothing says “I love you” better than an actual sculpture of your anus. Each sentimental token is created by making a physical cast from your anus – displaying your unique beauty through the intricate detailing. $1,900.00.’


Carissa Rodriguez Symptomatic / What Would Edith Say (2015)
‘A service top is one who tops under the direction of an eager bottom. A versatile top is one who prefers to top but who bottoms occasionally. Starting at the top, the artist’s tongue—muscle of conceptual articulation and arbiter of aesthetic disposition—is more simply, the locus of language and taste; while accordingly at the bottom, the filth of distinction gathers in the anus. Pornography sanitizes anuses by cosmetically bleaching them for the screen, rendering natural flesh “more uniform with its surrounding area,” similar to the way art galleries light and fluff their spaces to achieve the cold, fluorescent-white installation shot that emits an ambience akin to the sweatshop—an artwork at its maximum efficiency. Between tongue and anus are the organs, situated midway, or Midtown, much like the art advisor’s position between the artist and the collector. Practitioners of Chinese medicine diagnose the conditions of internal organs as its symptoms appear on the tongue’s surface, which is read and appraised like a rare map, rug, vase, or painting, and although it is too overwrought to liken the tongue to a screen (mirroring the artist inside) or to a ‘mood board’ in the case of the branding consultant, the liver and spleen are nevertheless dutifully at work scripting messages to the moist upper surface.’




p.s. Hey. ** h (now j), Hi. I’m happy she/the show interested you. I like her work. I’m generally not so interested in artists who settle on a formula/signature move and then keep working it for their whole ‘career’, but I find Wachtel’s stuff continuously charming. Yeah, fuck, it’s going to be over 100 degrees here today. Much suffering ahead. Yesterday I escaped into the Louvre with a visiting friend. Today … I don’t know yet. Maybe IKEA? I live across the street from one. Enjoy the fruits of your friendly temperature. ** David Ehrenstein, She’s a lot quirkier and non-full of herself than Koons. It won’t surprise you that I knew/saw Arthur J and the Gold Cups play a few times. If only they’d been as fun as their name. ** JoeM, I’ve thought about restoring one of the Self-Portrait Days. One big problem is that my old blog’s data was returned to me in a very jumbled state, so it would take a lot of work to find all the images and put one of those huge posts back together. (The prior blog’s comments are very garbled. I’d need to be an archeologist with the patience of a saint to de-garble and organise them, and I’m not.) The other thing is I would only do that if the post would seem to be of interest to current readers of the blog who wouldn’t necessarily know the players involved. I wouldn’t restore it just for nostalgic or sentimental reasons, or not considering the large amount of time and work that would be involved. But I’ll go look around and see if I can find the ruins of one where it would be possible and interesting to restore. ** Misanthrope, When I’m working on a novel, I always email myself the current draft every two or three days to be safe. Yes, I first met a lot of you who’ve wound up being great friends at that ‘Kindertotenlieder’ show in Glasgow. Weird. Great! Is your cake, like, a specially designed cake or just a very yummy assembly line one? Since your b’day is on Monday, I’ll wait to wish you a volcanic one until then. I find numerology nerdily very fascinating, but, yeah, I don’t believe a word, or, I guess, a digit. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ha ha, you know that point of comparison crossed my mind too. Interesting. Her work is quite influenced by Baldessari’s, and I think Baldessari’s work definitely had a real influence on my GIF work. ** Quinn R, Hi, Quinn! I’m well, just suffering mightily under boiling hot skies at the moment. Things in Paris are close enough to being ‘normal’ that life here does feel nice and open and mostly stress free. And boy do I feel very, very lucky as well as quite guilty considering what you and all my other US friends are having to live through. I think I would say, if I were to generalise, that the US vis-a-vis COVID is viewed as a pathetic and embarrassing joke. Great that you sorted out a move to Brooklyn! And about your story winding up in Evergreen Review! Probably needs not be said, but once you’ve started publishing your stuff it will be much easier to get your stuff published, as many places/publishers are sadly pretty gutless when it comes to the new and unproven. Sad state of affairs, but people’s fear of the unsanctified and unsafe, and, especially, among people ‘in power’, is a huge problem in so many things and ways. And congrats on your new boyfriend! You’re on a roll. (And my warm greetings back to SF). I don’t know the name Logan T. Sibrel, but I’ll hunt his stuff online. Oh, gosh, no I don’t think what you’re doing is shitty whatsoever. It sounds very sane to me. A relationship that doesn’t interfere in your writing is the ideal. Well, I guess somewhat similarly in a way, my first boyfriend was a street prostitute, so he was fucking others all the time, and, more pertinently, another of my longtime boyfriends was in another relationship too the whole time, and yet another serious boyfriend had simultaneous relationships with William Burroughs and a well known filmmaker who shall not be named while we were together, and I didn’t have a problem with that, and the eventual breakups in those relationships had nothing to do with that ‘infidelity’. So, yeah, I don’t find the deal with your new relationship problematic. Obviously, related problems could arise, but, hey, one only lives once and one lives to love a lot. I’ve been reading some books that are in a ‘books I read recently’ post next week, so you’ll see. Musically, this and that, just stuff I’m getting cued into and bagging from bandcamp. A bit random artistic input of late, I guess. Summer haziness and all of that. Really great to see you, and big, multiple congratulations again, and have a rocking weekend, and I hope to see you again soon. ** Steve Erickson, That sounds like very good progress to me. Hang in there, and you’ll be as right as rain again any hour now. ** Josh, Whoa, hi, Josh! Awesome to see you, old buddy. It’s crazy how long this place has been going, and how much has happened in/because of this place, and how it has kept evolving. Bizarre even (especially?) to me. Oh, man, no amends necessary. Au contraire. You’ve always been interesting and valuable when here. No sweat whatsoever. And you remain more than welcome here anytime. It’s a different kind of place now, or I try to make it so. It got too intense and contentious there at a certain point years ago, too dysfunctional family-like or something, and I decided I was either going to do the blog differently, more formally and in a more distanced way, or stop doing it altogether. And that was that. I’m glad that if you had to get COVID you got through it easily. Yeah, it’s the veritable night and day re: how the situation is over there versus over here. Life is almost normal again, and basically everyone does the masks, distancing, hands washing thing without complaint, and it seems to be working like a charm so far, but we’ll see if the thing raises its ugly head here again. It could. My novel is finished, but it’s not coming out soon. Late next year, which feels painfully (for me, at least) far from now. I’m glad you’re still writing, and, yeah, whatever attitude you take toward it that keeps you going is the way to go. Excited by the prospect of a collection by you! Keep me/us up on that please. You sound pretty good, Josh. I’m very happy to hear it, man. And definitely keep on keeping on. Sanitised hugs from here and me to you. ** Right. Asses, what’s not to like? A weekend full of them. Have at them. Let them have their ways with you. See you on Monday.

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