Sexuality can be thought of as the discourse between the world and the self. It is a place where the I negotiates the meaning of the body, the meaning of the self as an individual in the group and the meaning of sex within our surroundings. Moreover sexual practices construct the very meaning of sex. But the body in sex is a site contested specifically and aggressively by external social forces. While it is true that the self develops from the friction between our bodies and the world, the public expression of desire and power struggle seem to go hand in hand. Each of these videos touches on an aspect of how we come to form our sense of who we are as individuals through sex and the difficulties of this negotiation of sexuality with others.
In James Murrays video "Electrical Performances a man sits before the camera in a typical portrait pose of head and shoulders. The lyrics to Salt-N-Pepas hit song Push It appear in subtitles at the bottom. A cultural marker of that time in American pop history, the album Hot, Cool & Vicious made Salt-N-Pepa the first female rap duo to earn gold or platinum records. The man in the video writhes in an ambiguous combination of ecstasy and agony along to the lyrics of the song. Sweat exudes from every pore, his teach clenched. In ecstasy the sense of self seems to crack revealing something primal, something not consciously controlled; does this happen in agony too? The quandary of the body and of the self is that it is so often involuntary and compulsory while the social forces surrounding sexuality seem equally compulsory.
Others in the show reveal the mechanisms of cultural artifice. The continual loop in Jeroen Nelemans "Red Alert", of the bridge of the starship Enterprise under attack, exposes the silly gimmick behind the special effect. With each impact of the ship the actors flail in unison. The actors conspiratorial device is seen for what it is, and for what cultural ideas of the normative themselves might be, an agreed upon fake.
Similarly Douglas Gordons "Making of a Monster" parallels Nelemans critique. Gordons use of tape turns his face into an unsightly mess. His eyes are artificially large and his ears and cheeks are distorted. Children often tape up their faces to gross each other out, but in the end they are the same as they were before the tape. The Scotch tape is removable. Gordons point is that monsters are made, very often by the media, and that they are not very well constructed either.
If Gordons remaking of himself its about configuration, then Carlos Rigaus narrative video "They told me to name it something personal, so I named it Personal lampoons another pitfall of the sexual tale; the stereotype. Narratives are very important in the formation of a sexual self. But stereotypes are a form of normative value in disguise. Carlos Rigau uses parody of the stereotype to full effect. The video is the cosmological tale of cutout boy with a mans face who experiences lifes full circle, the emergence of consciousness in celestial formation, the trials of interacting with a harsh world, the challenge of another person, and finally death. The stereotype for Rigau is the great humanist tale of birth, suffering and death. Yet even farcical narratives wear out their humor and leave the original kernel of discontent that spawned them, namely the ignominious and ever fleeting necessity of life.
Mika Rottenberg in Julie presents another tale, this one of struggle and balance. An archaic term for homosexuality, inversion implies a correct or normative orientation while queer theory attempts to avoid definition altogether. While Julie is not so clearly allegorical of queer identity, what could be more normative than gravity? The inversion in Julie is one of solid ground to limitless sky and the deep blue sky makes for an awesome abyss. It is only a trick of the camera but the gravitas of the sky becoming the void is palpable. In Julie a prototypical struggle narrative exists. Its hard to walk on ones hands in order to see the world in a different way.
Finally, Marc Swansons and Neil Gusts "Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime", a montage of disco footage and found porn, deals in visual and auditory pleasure. Fleeting images are set to thumping music, with occasional glimpses of the snowy backwoods lit with strobe lights. Encounters happen in bathroom stalls, and the rhythm becomes like a heartbeat or a beacon. One hand briefly rests on another. It is an exuberant celebration of sexuality. But there is a hint of loneliness the video. The final shot is of a man in the woods holding a strobe light obliterating the night briefly with its pulsating glow. Its a guiding light to others wanting to end their lonely walk, if only for a moment.