During the Berlin Pornfilmfestival, October 23-27th 2013, which, after Panorama, has become the city’s largest platform for narrative, documentary and experimental cinema about sexuality and identity, SomoS presents Rule 34, a group exhibition of similarly innovative artistic positions.
In internet folklore, Rule 34 stipulates that anything thinkable can be made into porn, or probably already has, “if you think about it, it’s already porn”.Taken at face value, the Rule 34 meme includes several ideas. First the notion of the sexual gaze, the so called “dirty mind,” one that is able to see sensuality and eroticism in unexpected places, either in a serious or humorous way. Also it implies “pomosexuality”, desire and attraction, cut loose from any sexual orientation labeling. The third idea to be found in Rule 34 is that, in a capitalist society, every wish or fancy is already economically exploited and catered to.
Objectification, erotic representation, virtual seduction, availability and integrity are some of the subjects of the associative presentation, which features works by an international group of artists.
The show comprises a wide range of techniques, including photography, painting, installation, sculpture and performance.
In her photography noted transsexual photographer and documentary filmmaker J.Jackie Baier presents us with a deeply personal and unglamorized view of Berlin’s sexual underground, moving through the city’s clubs, brothels, bars and streets. Baier, who moved to Berlin in 1993 and officially became a woman in 1997, portrays in a non-voyeuristic way the lives of transsexual prostitutes, drag queens and other “misfits”. Baier’s broader political discourse deals with „migration as movement between countries, classes and sexes.“ Aiming to achieve its right of visual representation, Baier shows the invisible face of migration. The artist’s work has been compared to artists like Nan Golding, Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger, for the way she portrays (and exemplifies) a highly talented, unadapted, sexually anarchic urban subculture.
Baier’s work was presented at the Streeple group show at Kunstraum Richard Sorge as official part of the European Month of Photography Berlin 2010.
Julia, Baier’s latest full length documentary, JULIA, was premiered at the Giorni Degli Autori/Venice Days August 31, 2013 and met with instant enthusiasm and broad media interest, E. Nina Rothe of the Huffington Post eloquently remarking how “the true brilliance of Julia lies in making “the Other” accessible, exploring our differences, so that we may celebrate them instead of punishing each other.”
Of Rachel Buehlmann’s SSEXESS photography project both the resulting photographs and animations as well as an installation of the 360° Camera Obscura shooting setup are presented. Buehlmann’s Camera Obscura is built as a 200 cm diameter circle featuring 180 pinholes. Reduced to its most basic principle, the installation works without mirrors, lenses, or any other technical refinements, and presents us with pure Physics: a dark room, punctures, light, penetration, and light-sensitive material.
Beyond Physics, SSEXESS explores philosophical concepts. Buehlmann notes that her installation is rather panoptic than panoramic. End of the 18th century, Jeremy Bentham described the Panopticon, a concept of social life, where from a centrally located watchtower the prison cells are being observed. SSEXESS turns this perspective around and suggests it may be symbolic of today’s digital life.
Rachel Buehlmann remarks that ironically photography was invented at a moment in Western history where time started to radically speed up, fulfilling the demand to freeze time. SSEXESS freezes the moment of orgasm, making it last forever in poetic and mysterious prints and animations.
Stefano is a noted Italian artists using a masterful technique who is currently working in Berlin. A prolific participant in the notorious early 80’s Downtown New York art and music scene, Stefano is known for his large street murals, and paintings on the “tough and a little nasty surface” (Glenn O’Brien) of leather jackets collected and prized by Warhol and other celebrities. Recent collaborations include a Patricia Field commission for a new collection of iconic jacket paintings and a Sisley organized leather jacket painting fund-raiser exhibition for the Warhol Museum.
Recent mural commissions include the lobbies of the Maritime and Bowery hotels in New York. Stefano currently is working on a series of realistic female nudes and other themes. The nightmarish baconesque imagery of the painting presented in Rule 34, with its female figure on a mattress-less cage-like iron bed hints at institutionalization, sexual captivity and exploitation.
Bernard Föll’s career as a visual artist spans well over 25 years. Föll is also active as curator, for instance of a series of Club-art shows at the Haus am Luetzowplatz and has curated and organized several group shows in Berlin.
Autodidact but very resourceful, Föll was active as actor and director in West-Berlin’s anarchic super 8 film movement of the early 80’s, “a creative Berlin which to this day exerts its influence on German pop culture and beyond”. Many artists of this time worked with any medium available, declaring themselves “Geniale Dilletanten” (ingenious dilettantes). This scene’s love of trash and disregard for distinctions between high and low culture is still apparent in Bernard Föll’s current paintings. After starting out with large psychedelic collage works and paintings reworking Italian porn pulp comics, he has for the last 15 years been painting almost exclusively using stencils.
Donato Del Giudice
Using a large format camera built to document architecture and immobile themes, the Del Giudice uses it to make personal portraits as well.
The photographer started studying art at the Academia delle Belle Arti di Brera; subsequently he studied at the International Center of Photography in New York, where he studied with Alan Frame, Gerard Vezzuso and Amy Arbus, and came in contact with Alec Soth.
In Del Giudice’s oeuvre, US American and Italian sensibilities are applied to the Middle European photographic view. The photographer developed an understated vision of his generation and their urban surroundings, but introduces to this sober way of photographing an Italian poetic sense.
Emanuelle, Berlin 1012 presented at Rule 34, is an example of an ongoing series in which Del Giudice portrays his generation in their daily intimacy and vulnerability, evoking an existential, morning-after feeling.
Performance artist Lan Hungh presented his new mixed media/live performance piece cogito ergo sum, which he especially developed for the Rule 34 exhibition. The transgressive piece explores as much the reactions of the audience, as well as the performer’s actions.
Lan Hungh works in a variety of media; performance, video, music and installation, through which he demonstrates a passion for psychology and the physical, and the way language and actions influence them. Hungh often places himself and his works in an architectural and environmental context, while exploring eroticism and the body politic in his conceptualizing of art.
Lan Hungh was born in Taipei, Taiwan. He studied at the University of Art in Taiwan and the National Conservatory in France, and is currently working as an artist and curator in Berlin. He works as curator of MPA-B (Month of performance Art Berlin) and is the main founder of APA-B (Association of Performance Art in Berlin), and acts as art director of Stattberlin Gallery. His publications include a poetry audio book of Chinese contemporary compositions “”Schmetterlinge auf der Windschutzscheibe” (2009), RPLCMNT by Savvy Contemporary (2010), catalogue “Parenthesisspaceparenthesis” edition 0 and 1 (2012 and 2013).
Joep van Lieshout
The Rotterdam based sculptor/designer is interested in economic and biological processes, self-sustainability and autarky, and the creation of alternative, Waldenesque worlds. Van Lieshout has taken inspiration from human sexuality and biology in many of his works, like his Womb House, his vagina and dirty word sculptures, and Pikken, of which one is presented at Rule 34.
Lieshout’s “Pikken” (dicks) sculptures are produced in various sizes, from small ones up to large pieces presented in public spaces in cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam. They explore in van Lieshout’s typical blunt unapologetic fashion concepts of sexuality, power, tabu and obscenity. Not a timid artist by nature, van Lieshout’s Pikken have been interpreted as symbolizing the macho compulsion to “extend the body,” to broaden the alpha male territory, penetrating society and the art world. Van Lieshout has produced dick sculptures in many sizes and materials (both in synthetic and “bio” flavored lines), and also produced Dutch-language “dirty word sculptures” exploring Eros and Thanatos.
To quote van Lieshout, “the penis is something magical, the workings of the ejaculation can definitely be called wondrous, and leads me to believe in the existence of a Divine Designer®”.
Apart from colorful and smooth erotic oil paintings depicting common scenarios from gay media, Bas Meerman is well known for his “Intimes Tagebuch“ which occupies a special place within the artist’s oeuvre. Part of an ongoing project since 1996, sometimes reminiscent of some of Andy Warhol’s or Jean Cocteau’s best work on paper, the drawings constitute an intimate sequence of 1500 consecutive loose pages. Although they are not exactly studies for Meerman’s paintings, his diary drawings do inform some of the artist’s paintings and larger works on paper. In the traditionally more public discipline of painting, Meerman also occupies himself with such classical themes like portrait, landscape and still life.
Rule 34 presents a rare ceramic “bareback” plate made by the artist in 2007. Stylistically, it combines the lurid colors of the artist’s paintings with the brazen sexuality of his drawings.
Bas Meerman has had several solo shows at Brutto Gusto gallery in Berlin. The artist enjoyed presentations at the Liste art fair 2004, the Alte Feuerwache, the Schwules Museum, the Stadtgalerie Kiel, and at the Galerie Nord/Kunstverein Tiergarten. His work is present in many private and public collections.
Brooklyn-based Japanese artist Hiroki Otsuka has worked as a popular Manga artist for more than 15 years; currently he is successfully developing a fine art career.
After spending a few years in Tokyo, Otsuka, like many other young Japanese artists, went abroad, living in San Francisco, and currently in New York, where he has worked for the Takashi Murakami studio and exhibited with such artists as Yoko Ono and Yasunao Tone. He has recently executed large-scale murals for the Japan Society (NY) and exhibited at the MOCA Museum in LA, Pittsburgh University Art Gallery and had a solo exhibition at Berlin’s Kunstraum Richard Sorge.
In his drawings and paintings, Otsuka makes an elegant transition from Manga to erotic Fine Art, applying intriguing gender twists to his uninhibited explorations of sexuality. Warhol Museum director and Japanese Contemporary Art expert Eric C. Shiner has written: “Otsuka’s works delve into our own experiences of the carnal; whether straight, gay, trans-gendered or otherwise, these works speak to the diversity of sexuality.”Not only the Manga, but also the Ukyo-e tradition are taken up in Otsuka’s work, as are a Warhol-like seriality and the Manga-related Cosplay phenomenon. The expected “kawaii” elements are twisted and pushed into the eerie, hollow and grotesque.
Johanna Schweizer was born in 1946 in Enschede, Netherlands. She is living and working in Breda, Netherlands, and teaches Ceramics. Schweizer is sometimes – lazily – described as the Dutch Louise Bourgeois. This may refer to the surrealist aspects of her work; her perseverance and consistent vision; or the long time it took for audiences to catch up with her work. After impressive presentations at Brutto Gusto fine_arts (Berlin), Kunstraum Richard Sorge, and her participation in the Just Different, Lingam and Strich & Faden group shows, the interest in Schweizer’s oeuvre is now steadily growing. Schweizer’s fiber sculptures are made in the last ten years. Both profound and witty, the sculptures reference a wide array of themes, from gender and pomosexuality to religion, folklore, paganism and fairy tales, – the sensually playful and the deadly serious going hand in hand.
Ukrainian duo Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven/Synchrodogs’ inventive photographic oeuvre presents us with highly inventive imagery from the crossover of art and fashion photography, where there‘s room for personal and challengingly eccentric ways of erotic self expression. The duo’s work is one of the few examples of fashion photography which truly functions as convincing and fresh art at the same time.
The photography presented at Rule 34 are taken from the artist’s Misha Koptev portfolio; and offer an intimate and challenging erotic vision of tenderness and sleazy glamor.
Tulip Enterprises are a Berlin-based art and curation collective. They are dedicated to “fighting artistic dysfunctionality a day at a time with inclusive art strategies.” They do this since 1991 by way of public art presentations and international self-organized exhibitions.
Tulip Enterprises had solo presentations at Showroom MaMA, Lumen Travo, Gallery Wagemans, Haus am Lützowplatz, V!P’sLab. Their work can be found in the collections of Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, and international private collections. The New Museum, Rick Castro’s Antebellum Gallery, Brutto Gusto represent the duo’s Ceramixed Plates. An in-deep interview has appeared in the Flyer Soziotope book. More recently, the Mein Schwules Auge anthology has featured their Ceramixed Plates.
The erotic Ceramixed Plates consists of vintage decorated porcelain plates from the past seven decades, over painted by the artists with motives from gay porn. The slogan “Disco Sucks Again” is present on many of the plates. It is an adaption of the old late 70’s slogan “Disco Sucks”, used at that time in the U.S – by those excluded from the party – to criticize the disco era’s decadence, progressiveness, multiculturalism and permissiveness. “Disco Sucks” became a mass movement practicing mass record burnings in stadiums not dissimilar to Nazi book burnings. Today, the rise of intolerance, retribalization and surveillance, may signify that “Disco Sucks Again”.