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PROSTITUTION II: THE "RETURN" OF THE "MALE" "GAZE"
Between 1973 and 1976 Cosey Fanni Tutti used modelling sessions with men’s magazines as a vehicle for her performance art. Tutti planned to display published soft porn imagery of herself as a part of the COUM Transmissions exhibition Prostitution at the ICA in 1976. Due to the intervention of the Crown Commissioners (who owned the ICA’s lease) and the Arts Council of Great Britain, these portraits were not shown as Tutti had intended. Instead, the work was stored in containers, with the public only allowed access to one image at a time. The effect of this censorship has been compounded by recent propaganda issued by the mutual admiration society of Frankfurt School groupies centred on that tits and bums obsessed failure John ‘Porno’ Roberts.
Porno Roberts is currently using the work of his chums, the fledgling failures Dave Beech and David Burrows – as well as that of their more successful peers – as a hook on which to hang various low-grade restatements of Adorno’s fallacious claims about ‘the critical autonomy of art’. Never allowing factual accuracy to get in the way of puffs, ego massaging and mutual backslapping, Roberts posits what he styles ‘recent British art’ as a reaction to the critique of representation pursued by a proceeding generation. Thus Mary Kelly becomes a paradigmatic example of seventies and eighties feminist art, while work by the likes of Tutti is pointedly ignored because it disrupts Porno Roberts’s reductive revisionism, while simultaneously making a mockery of the claims he has set forth about the originality and radicality of recent ‘British’ art as a reflex against earlier feminist ‘propriety about the body’.
To counter the homogenising effect of Porno Roberts’s recent onslaughts and simultaneously highlight the diversity of feminist art practices prevalent in the seventies and eighties, I have remade some of Tutti’s pornographic portraits on Polaroid. By choosing works that were already ‘reproductions’ and ‘copying’ them in a different medium, I am reasserting the role of the viewer in the realisation of what Porno Roberts configures as ‘angry voluptuousness’. Tutti’s pornographic/confessional output is something that those immersing themselves in the hype surrounding the so called ‘newer art practices’ ignore at their peril. For a more detailed demolition of Porno Roberts see Disputations On Art, Anarchy And Assholism by Stewart Home and "Friends" (Sabotage Editions, London 1997).
First published in the catalogue accompanying the group exhibition Multiple Choice at the Cubitt Gallery, London 7 March to 6 April 1996. Show curated by Matthew Higgs.
Next: More on Porno Roberts
Examples of Cossey Fanni Tutti art works remade onto Polaroid by Stewart Home for his appropriation series "Prostitution II" first shown as part of the Matthew Higgs curated exhibition "Multiple Choice" at Cubitt Gallery, London March/April 1996.
Stewart Home also applies appropriation techniques to his moving image work. See film notes
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