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Objectophilia
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Theory & Practice.

From Wikipedia

Objectum sexuality is a pronounced sexual and or emotional desire towards particular inanimate objects. Those individuals with this expressed preference may feel strong feelings of arousal, attraction, love and commitment to certain items or structures of their fixation. For some, sexual or even close emotional relationships with humans are incomprehensible. The term objectum-sexuality was coined in the 1970s by a woman named Eija-Riitta Eklöf Berliner-Mauer from Liden, Sweden, who was married to the Berlin Wall. Objectum-sexual individuals also believe in animism, or the belief that objects have souls, intelligence, feelings, and are able to communicate.

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robtsum's picture

this is a really interesting class that can explode into a million directions. i didn't realize till today that art historians and visual culture folks are engaged in a deep objectphilia. i mean i knew but i forgot. make sense?
as ever, robert

I guess I am trying to think of new ways to define how people deal/cope with ideas of sex in highly capitalist societies and what I think belongs to the plane of abstinence. Freud and Lacan are definitely there. I am also trying to define a model of a-sexual being, a person that is stripped bare of being either masculine or feminine (not necessarily transgendered). For example, how Daryl Hannah was in the classic Blade Runner.

robtsum's picture

This is fun -- given this dreadful week. It is like we are already having the class. Given than, may you explain more on "a-sexuality," Stella? You argument seems informed by psychoanalysis, and (Freudian and Lacanian and both) psychoanalysis seems important to this discussion and class proposed by Caleb ...

What about also: a-sexuality, neutralized sexuality. Masturbation in extreme capitalist society; absolute self-sufficiency and the pleasures of the self. Object - subject inversion ; fear of physical contact with other human beings, clinical sex.

Clinical sex (my coining): a term to define sex as a sterilized, clean and detached (non-emotional) practice. It varies slightly from masturbation as it involves another person/persons. During clinical sex intercourse, there is not a question of two people participating; it is about ego-pleasure seeking for the same person. Therefore, the other person involved in intercourse is treated more or less like an object. This practice can be found even in long term relationships.

robtsum's picture

freud pathologizes the fetish, but he would be important to read in relation to others ...

A moment, or movement of objectphilia

A queer phenomenology, perhaps, might start by redirecting our attention toward different objects, those that are ‘less proximate’ or even those that deviate or are deviant. And yet, I would not say that a queer phenomenology would simply be a matter of generating queer objects.
—Sara Ahmed

It is not out of the question, however, that in order to pass from one to the other there must occur, ‘between’ them, an event of an entirely different nature, one that hides the image, takes place outside.
—Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

I am in Vaginal Davis’s club, Bricktops, and I am looking at that chandelier (fig. _?_): a beautifully failed chandelier with all of its singularity and specificity. It seems “out of place,” “out of another time,” “out of synch,” which is to say it is dis-located, which makes it rather dis-oriented, as well as being dilapidated—and this is one state of being that is often valued and cherished by queers, which I will return to below. Nevertheless, or in spite of it all, I am drawn to this dis-placed and dilapidated object. I am captured and captivated by it—more so than any other subject or object closer to me at the moment. I am fixated on this object in the middle …
Suddenly there is a burst of song from behind me—it is completely recognizable. I turn around, and Vaginal Davis is rubbing her cunt on the thigh and knee of, what she calls, “a hunky, corn-feed, white boy.” She draws everyone’s attention to, for me and perhaps her, the handsome, white, young man; he is made into an object for this un-becoming, queer performance artist—as well as for the rest of us. Her voice is shattered and epic; she sings, “My Pussy Is a Cactus”. The song ends, as does the leg humping. Without a doubt, she is creating a politicized space and a queer sexual space—not that the two are opposed, they are not. Drawing from art historian and queer theorist John Paul Ricco’s theorization of sexualized space, all of what I have written above is precisely the creation of a queer sexual space, which is also political—and which is part and parcel to Bricktops and much of the work of Davis.
Wandering back to that dis-placed and dilapidated chandelier, it shimmers, shines, and sparkles. It captures my eye/I. The object’s tarnished gold leaf veneer (or is it bronze?) and plastic jewels pick up the lights that are precariously situated throughout the darkly lit club. Indeed, I am with this object (even as it is with me?). I am erotically and emotionally moved by it. According to Sara Ahmed, a queer cultural and critical theorist, who is connecting her earlier work on “emotional intentionality” to a model of “affect as contact,” she states, “we are affected by ‘what’ we come into contact with. In other words, emotions are directed to what we come into contact with: they move us ‘toward’ and ‘away’”. Similarly, the other, on an affective, relational, and embodied, phenomenological level, always leaves one un-done, and this other can be a subject or an object—it matters little. Now, to push Ahmed’s theorization of a queer phenomenology—as well as her “emotional intentionality”—further and what this may mean to the subject, to subjectivity, and to push it further toward an explicit “queer relationality” and “queer embodied experience,” Tim Dean, a queer theorist who deploys Lacanian psychoanalysis, has argued, “jouissance need not be mistaken for an elitist proposition, since it isn’t necessary to be initiated into high culture to have one’s relational activity intensely engaged by visual and verbal phenomena [within high culture]. The ravishings of jouissance are as likely to be experienced in the mosh pit as they are in the opera hall”. So, let there be no doubt that there is a perverse relation in my relationship to this dilapidated object that scintillates me (outside and inside—no distinction; but is it reciprocal?). It undoes me in the full force of a moment, or moments, of jouissance. It appears that Tim Dean is on to something queer when he states, “Beyond sexuality lie the myriad possibilities of aesthetics”. And, again, these “possibilities of aesthetics” are also for a jouissance that un-does the subject—(t)here, me. What Dean argues resonates with what Michel Foucault argued, but slightly differently, in numerous interviews when he began to think of “gay relations” (one could call these “queer relations” ) in relation to his theorizing an aesthetics of existence and new intensities with regard to new forms of relationships.
That chandelier just hangs there. It is in the “center” of it all, and it is above it all, yet in it all, or to draw from Maurice Merleau-Pony, “there is reciprocal insertion and intertwining of one in the other”. That chandelier shimmers and shines, and all five “candles,” as well as the reflections form the steams and plastic jewels, bring forth the scintillations that, as I have said, always caught my eye/I at Bricktops—perhaps it still does.
I say to no one in particular, “It really doesn’t belong there.” Continuing this dialogue: “It’s odd there; it’s out of place; it’s dilapidated.” And, indeed, it is “odd” there, and it doesn’t “belong,” but that’s why I like it so much: it is out of place, out of time, in a certain state of ruin, and in this way it is centered and de-centering—it is off, even when on. But, these very “faults”—what I would call qualities of the singular and specific—of this chandelier are what makes me have a deep admiration of it—my utter investment in it. Also, I admire how it simply hangs there: it is centered and de-centering, and it is above it all, yet in it all. And, isn’t that what “illuminates” the queerness of the bodies/selves populating Bricktops, performing fluid sexualized subjectivities—enacting a queer aesthetics of existence? Or, is it the angle I am in—my precarious orientation within this space and with this precarious visuality I look at, which is always dis-orientating with its variable orientations: queer phenomenological moments, indeed—by which I mean moments of embodiedment that are perverse in this space, this club that is hosted by Davis. Finally, the chandelier can be considered ahistorical in this anachronistic space—which I will return to below, and which is but one of the many reasons that queers this club.
Without a doubt, this queer inanimate yet animating “object” (subject?) has caught me—the supposed “subject,” under its sparkling and shimmering thumb: the binary of “subject” and “object” are radically destabilized, which is but one queer tactic enacted and nurtured by Davis. In such a space all binaries crumble, they become porous and the line that divides them leaks: queer punctures, punches, violates. Furthermore, the ostensibly stabile positions and fixity of subject/object, self/other, and identities are disrupted and unmoored from modernist mentalities that argue that there is such a thing as stability, universality, and even a coherent and complete self that is not un-done by the other.
That chandelier hung, or I should write, with more than a bit of melancholia, hanged there, in the center of the main-room of the Parlour Club, which I only went to on Fridays—“Vaginal Davis’s night,” as many would say, in order to see, and to be with, the parade of daddies, dandies, dykes, faggots, punks, as well as straights-being-naughty, and all the other queer subjects, and also, probably most importantly, to see that chandelier. It hung before the theater stage, which mirrored the surrounding “stage” where costumed subjects performed themselves—enacting, if only for a night, a queer art-life. They are all decked out for the night’s theme. One theme at the club was the ever-popular “Marlene Dietrich Night.” The chandelier reflected all of that took place in the space, which (always) became a queer sexual space through the perverse enactments of various bodies/selves and the work (as an un-working) of Davis.
That chandelier—even as it hung in-between a high-tech projector and a disco-ball, and it is not too ironic that the history of objects is out of synch in this space—pulled, for me, all of the gravity in the club toward it when Davis was not performing for and with the spectators-participants. With its strangeness, is mis-, dis-placements, and dis-orientations, with its oddness, otherness, “not-belonging-ness,” which interestingly enough are also all ways to one may describe Vaginal Davis—as well as Bricktops. Davis’s club night was a kind of synecdoche for a queer “community” to come (always to-come).
It is that chandelier—which hung there, that beautiful object, that, just like everyone in the Parlour Room on Fridays was above it all (the dominate social order that co-constructs bodies and cities ), yet in it all: full immersion. Without a doubt, Bricktops was about, in part, embodied immersion and embodied queerness in the “heterotopia” of Los Angeles —which is also above it all, yet in it all, in the heterotopia of California. And, Bricktops—its virtualities and physicalities—was a space to explore, what Foucault has called, “technologies of the self,” which is to say making ones life an art(work), to practice how to become otherwise than one was. And, Bricktops was the space where I was told, more than once, to “become a work of art” by Davis performing herself—or another.

it might be interesting to look at the structure around fetish in Freud as a cross reference; i recall that text is pleasurably peculiar. there are a number of ancient practices around small totemic objects that i've looked at a bit. i would be up for co-teaching...

Does transitional object theory in child psychology count ? I thought of D.W. Winicott's Transitional Objects and phenomena...and the string boy or is that just too normal for what this class proposes ? what would the practice involve?
stella

robtsum's picture

SGB

sean's picture

i just met an artist in berlin who had made a video about the woman who married the berlin wall. we could screen that?

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