While milling over my thoughts and feelings about Bruce LaBruce’s film Super 8 1/2, which puts the notion that pornography can be art on trial, I decided to investigate artists whose experimentations center around sex and sexuality. Through my research, I found La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario (Bruce LaBruce is also from Canada (is the trend notable?)). How LPM can be described:
“La Petite Mort (a French reference to the tense throes of orgasm) is a befitting name for a gallery with an appetite for the ecstatic. Definitely sexy and committed to indulgence, La Petite Mort is an eclectic ode to diversity.”
After reading this, I checked out a majority of the artists included in the gallery and interacted with their work. Most of the artists had work which I could understand as something other than simply pornography. For example, I am enamored by the work of Zachari Logan, especially pictures like this:
The way the artist describes his inspiring work:
“My body is a catalyst for my fascination with stereotypic masculine portrayals.The act of weightlifting, attaining a well-sculpted body is envisioned stereotypically as a visual mark of masculine enterprise, an act I partake in on a daily basis. Without needing to see me engaged in the act itself, my drawn body infers a performative athleticism. This athleticism coupled with the theatricality of a doppelganger or triplet existing on the same stage is designed to subtly evoke feelings of competition, fear and omnipotence- all in relation to performance anxiety. Although in most of these drawings I depict my body in a life-sized scale, the pictorial space in these drawings is quite shallow, with enough room for the figures to exist and interact. This lack of spatial depth is referential to Neo-Classical space, in which Spartan bodies were used to visually epitomize the strength of empire. The containment of space in these drawings is structured to illustrate a sense of claustrophobia and is directly referential to the viewer’s own body. This is a space that is in-between or marginal, a visual realm that is too small to exist within comfortably — but is considerable enough to contemplate being in.”
I’m totally on board with this artist, and I’m especially fond of his relationship to Peter Berlin and the multiplying of self as a technique.
What I’m not fond of is the work of Scot Sothern. In my eyes, the work of this artist feels exploitative. A man is photographing nude prostitutes and that makes me uncomfortable. Is it because the artist is a man? Would I feel any different if the artist was a woman? What about the women themselves? I assume they’ve consented to having their portraits photographed. So why should I take issue with the work? These are all questions that come to mind when I interact with my uncomfortableness to this work.
Lastly, among the Emerging Artists who are represented by this gallery, I’m challenged by the work of Drasko Bogdanovic. His photographs edge a little too closely to pornography for my artistic taste. One could argue that there is a lot going on in these photographs, and that there are formal experimentations being employed, but what’s the difference between this and a Pornographic magazine? But does it matter?
I’m grateful that a gallery such as LPM exists. It challenges my values and makes me question my views on sexually charged art.