Category Archives: the body

The Silver Loo Gallery, exhibit no. 1: The body inescapable

Rinus Van de Velde

[A post i started in July and only now got around to finishing…]

I noticed there’s an alarmingly disproportionate amount of text on this blog compared to images, which i find ironic, because i’m a very much visually oriented person.  So i’ve decided to start a regular (monthly? quarterly?) feature in which i showcase some of the images i discover and appreciate in my daily web browsing and periodic gallery visits.  I’ve always dreamed of being a gallery curator, so this will be one way of living out that fantasy, if only virtually.  Although i anticipate sharing mostly images, anything non-textual is fair game.  Each exhibit will feature the work of six individuals, living or dead.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, the opening exhibit of The Silver Loo Gallery:

The body inescapable
January 2011

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Forgiving vs. Forgetting

Do you forgive but never forget, or forget but never forgive?  Remember that question from silly surveys we’d fill out in junior high when we didn’t feel like doing our homework?  Well, this question just came up in an email exchange with a friend of mine, and it actually holds much relevance to an important ethical issue i’ve been grappling with.

But before i get to my personal story, let’s look at what Charles L. Griswold, author of Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration and recent contributor to The Stone, had to say about forgiveness.

First of all, Griswold introduces the idea of forgiveness as something that stems from religion, and coming from a non-religious background, i have difficulty understanding that perspective.  For instance, what does forgiveness have to do with revenge?  I was quite surprised to see revenge and vengeance included in the discussion, because those are completely separate issues for me when it comes to forgiveness.  Maybe it’s just because i’m not a vengeful person (i honestly can’t think of a single instance when i got revenge on anyone), but when i think about forgiveness, i think only about what you might think about what someone did to you, not what you might do afterwards.

However, if giving up revenge and resentment were sufficient to yield forgiveness, then one could forgive simply by forgetting, or through counseling, or by taking the latest version of the nepenthe pill.  But none of those really seems to qualify as forgiveness properly speaking, however valuable they may be in their own right as a means of getting over anger.  The reason is that forgiveness is neither just a therapeutic technique nor simply self-regarding in its motivation; it is fundamentally a moral relation between self and other.

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Body hair

Forgive me if this is too much information, but i don’t shave anywhere.  And i can’t believe that it has to be like this, but my parents give me so much shit for not shaving my armpits.

They’ve long given up on my legs, but ohhhh no, you better shave your armpits before you start teaching.  They claim that “most people” find underarm hair on women repulsive.  They actually put it on the same level as indecent exposure.

I just can’t, even for a second, accept their hypothesis of “it’s repulsive to most,” because not only do i find it attractive on both men and women, i’m not willing to buy that something as natural as body hair could be considered “repulsive.”  If cultural norms dictate that it’s acceptable on men, why shouldn’t it be acceptable on women, too?

I honestly haven’t a clue if people (other than my parents) really do find it repulsive.  I guess it doesn’t get talked about very much, at least not around me.  So i need your opinion.  Do you find underarm hair on women offensive?  Why or why not? Please try to give reasons, and feel free to remain anonymous if you want.

P.S.  If you’re interested, this post by my friend Sam has the beginnings of a discussion on women’s body hair, coupled with some relevant artwork.

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“The artist is the athlete.” –Matthew Barney

Everything about The Cremaster Cycle is sensuous, and Matthew Barney is the most generous filmmaker; he is not interested in feeding us a world through his eyes and ears.  Instead, he wants to open up a world to us by uncovering for us the things we want to see and hear.  What he sees and enjoys most, we see from the most satisfying angle.  What he hears and enjoys most, we hear at the most appropriate volume.  And these sights and sounds, we experience at just the right moments and frequency.  The camera floats at times like our eyes do when scoping out an unfamiliar place.  Static shots and long silences (i.e. with audio, but no dialogue or music) allow us to see and hear the situation and every detail in it to our heart’s content.  There is so much gratification for the viewer that you can’t help but love the experience you’re being given, despite it being given to you by Barney and not yourself.  As long as film is a practice in voyeuristic pleasure, Barney, as filmmaker, delivers.

For being a study of sexual differentiation, the epic does not take itself too seriously (maybe 5, and parts of 3, but most certainly not 1, 2, and 4).  Those who claim that it is a masterpiece defying all classification are blowing what is a neat series of films all out of proportion.  For The Cremaster Cycle is just that:  five films, nothing more.  And Barney knows this:  he knows that a movie is a movie, and that above all, a movie’s purpose is to entertain.  His sculptures may be art, but his films are not.  Nonetheless, there is a link between the two, a link that truly distinguishes The Cremaster Cycle:  these films make love to sculpture.

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questions on the loo, issue #6: Which of your senses would you lose if you had to lose one?

This is a common question that i’ve seen pop up in many places, but i never thought deeply about it until my best friend asked me it the other day.  At first, i confidently said, “Smell.”  I couldn’t give up sight; i’m a visual artist.  I couldn’t give up hearing either because i think it’s even more powerful than sight.  Touch was out of the question because i’m too sensuous, and as for taste, well, everyone knows i’m a foodie.  Smell and taste work together, of course, but between those two, i thought smell would be the least useful.  But then i remembered all those days of snuggling with loved ones and breathing in their unique smell emanating from their bosom; those days of hallucinating their smell when i missed them and smiling inwardly knowing that my nostrils had somehow “memorized” their smell; those days of stumbling upon articles of clothing they’d left behind, the pillows they’d slept on, and being hypnotically reminded of the tender memories.  I think i could live without smelling all those other scents i love like that of the rain, the ocean, the fresh-tilled soil, but i don’t think i could give up the scent of the human being.

So which would i lose?  I’d lose hearing.  I honestly think i appreciate dead silence more than the most sublime music, the pristine sounds of nature, maybe even the human voice.  Sound is more often an irritant to me than a pleasure.  There are surely things i’d miss hearing, especially water and wind and certain voices, but when i imagine myself first without smell and then without hearing, i see myself much unhappier in the former case.

Now it’s your turn:  which would you lose?  And a bonus question:  if you could choose one last thing to sense before losing your chosen sense, what would it be?  I chose hearing, so i’d choose to hear my love’s voice, whoever that may be at that moment.

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Protected: A confessional letter

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The woes of modeling

I was watching Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton the other day (excellent documentary, by the way), and this one particular scene is still haunting me:

Medium shots of several models getting their hair and makeup done.  They’re all wearing thick crusts of chunky silver glitter on their bottom eyelids, which makes them look like they’re crying.  Cut to close-up of one model who’s standing, surrounded by makeup artists, and crying.  The voiceover explains that she’s become allergic to makeup as a result of the constant removals and reapplications of it throughout the day as part of the modeling routine.  

Was she just tearing from the eye makeup?  Was she finally cracking under the pressure?  Was she upset that she was the only “incapable” one?  Was she scared that she would no longer be able to do her work and make a living?  

Whatever reason it might have been, it was a poignant and heartbreaking look into the taxing life of a model.

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On another note, expect very few (and short) posts from now until the middle of December.  It’s that time of the semester when papers, exams, and projects bury us students alive.  I’m anticipating a good post on New Jersey’s distinctive beauty, but it will have to wait until i get all my work done.

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