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Sexuality, Documents of Contemporary Art.

Amelia Jones, (ed.) (2014) Sexuality, Documents of Contemporary Art, London: Whitechapel Art Gallery. ISBN: 978-0-85488-224-3.

This book is a collection of essays and interviews. Many of the artists are involved in performance art in which they will either perform in front of a live audience or video their work. Much of the discussion is in regards to gay/lesbian scene and a more recent genre called the queer scene. The ‘queer’ scene appears to be a new title that can represent all forms of gay/homosexual representation in the arts. Feminism is also discussed at the beginning of the book.


Art, if it’s object is to undo repressions, and if civilisation is essentially repressive, is in this sense subversive of civilization. Some of Freud’s formulations on the role of the indispensable third person suggest that the function of art is to form a subversive group, the opposite of that authoritarian group the structure of which Freud analysed in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. The indispensable third person must be suffering from some repressions as the creative artist. The relation between the artist and the third person is one of identification, and identification is the relation which, according to Group Psychology, bind together the members of an authoritarian group. In contrast with the repressive structure of the authoritarian group, the aim of the partnership between the artist and the audience is instinctual liberation. (P.35-36, Jones, 2014).

Kobena Mercer, Skin Head Sex Thing: Racial Difference and the Homoerotic Imaginary//1991, In reference to racial fetishism in Mapplethorpe’s work, Mercer says…I want to emphasise its dependence on the framework of feminist theory initially developed in relation to cinematic representation by Laura Mulvey. Crudely put, Mulvey showed that men look and women are looked at. The position of ‘woman’ in the dominant regimes of visual representation says little or nothing about the historical experience of women as such, because the female subject functions predominantly as a mirror of what the masculine subject wants to see. (p.86, Jones, 2014).

I now wonder whether the anger in that earlier reading was not also the expression and projection of a certain envy. Was it not, in this sense, an effect of homosexual identification on the basis of a similar object-choice that invoked an aggressive rivalry over the same unattainable object of desire, depicted and represents in the visual field of the other? According to Jacques Lacan, the mirror-stage constitutes the ‘I’ in an alienated relation to its own image, as the image of the infant’s body is ‘unified’ by the prior investment that comes from the look of the mother, always already in the field of the other. In this sense, the element of aggressivity involved in textual analysis – the act of taking things apart – might merely have concealed my own narcissistic participation in the pleasures of Mapplethorpe’s texts. Taking the two events together, I would say that my ambivalent position as a black gay male reader stemmed from the way in which I inhabited two contradictions at one and the same time. In so far as the anger and envy were an effect of my identification with both object and subject of the gave, the rhetorical closure of my earlier reading simply displaced the ambivalence onto the text by attributing it to the author. (p87-88, Jones, 2014).

From Vito Acconci. In conversation with Cindy Nemser//1971. Actually you can’t say a body is in space I, or exists in space – it haunts space…A body is here but while he’s here he’s also there. He’s in a lot of places at once, making signs and leaving marks because of the way feelers go out from his body to things around him. It’s like a presence, but a ghostly presence. (p.182-183, Jones, 2014).

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Hi, I am an OCA student studying for an Art degree in Photography , my student number is 512659. My e-mail is:

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