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O Magazine

Mykki Blanco
and ARCA :

THE NEW GREAT masturbaTors.


David Quattlebaum Jr. always wanted to be Yoko Ono, not a rapper. He had no intention whatsoever to defend the #queerap label and genre at every step of his career. He hadn’t imagined he would be insulted by middle-aged shop assistants, Trump voters in the asshole of America, every time he went to buy a wedding dress for one of his performances and would find himself on the verge of the media abyss in the anomalous fight that supposed being the hip-hop gay activist ROLE MODEL.

In June 2015, when he rebelled against the stigma and publically revealed he had been diagnosed with HIV five years earlier, he managed to let go of the only fear that restricted his life. After multitudinous and turbulent support in social media and owning all the rage and violence inherent to rap, he managed to translate the parallelism and power roles of the genre with that other gay world full of AIDS, darkness and drugs almost no mainstream star dares to talk about.

Although from a less dirty kind of atrezzo, minimalism and post-human aesthetics, Arca’s trip hop moves around the same conceptual terms. Three months separate the videos we’ll thoroughly analyse here, two audiovisual pieces that talk about dreams, limbo, unbalance in death, orgasm, sexual violence and any direct manifestation of the non-visible. The borders between the mainstream and the experimental avant-garde are inexistent today; the second lies in a comma, unable to propose any artistic disruptions and spheres of resistance against capitalism.

Mykki Blanco’s Loner starts with an explicit reference to inner voice. The soliloquy is born from a humped head from which it emerges the amorphous word ‘Pornhub’, producer of this luminous dream. Like Athena being born from Zeus, only sexual diseases embody contemporary gods, that’s why this image reminds us of Dalí’s Endless Enigma and why the Dadaist moustache that Quattlebaum sports won’t be coincidental in this circus of desire.

The empty space in both videos take us to the mirror of the invisible, there’s no reflection beyond the naked body as conscience of the desire we liberate in order to die. There’s no manifestation of images prior to libido, all images are essentialised when it comes to yearning, all images are analogic even though they refer to the virtual world, they’re the concrete sum of abstractions. If Yoko Ono allowed people to undress her in the mid-sixties, today we need prosthesis, disguises, straps and steel to exemplify a vulnerability that is no longer fleshy, a body that no longer belongs to nature. Data tissue, cyborgs, vulnerable technological and emotional compost as Haraway would say.

Glitches in the frames of Loner are a way of creating beyond Pollock’s automatism, conscious control and expressive intention: in their sparks we can glimpse the humanoid ‘I’ of consciousness roaming among entrails. Pixels in the shape of human membranes and organs, like Daniel Canogar’s horror vacui, parts of the digital body that form scientific patterns or organisms.

We treat transgressive texts inasmuch as they can only rejoice in a bastard production of art, an impure mixture of melodies and concepts that absolutism fears and by breaking the law we might find a state of grace. Erotic transgression is, still today, the implicit model for any other translation, and, like in Bataille, what is meant in these pink, white and black rooms is to repress violence, supress confusion and the ephimeral death produced in sex, illuminating the moments in which man is lost. Arca’s video for Reverie might be understood as a contemporary render of the triptych inspired by the T. S. Eliot poem: Birth, and copulation, and death by Francis Bacon. 

There’s a romantic heritage that considers the artist as a violator of rules, indifferent to art, violated at the same time by class barriers. A man denying gender, acting at both sides of its limits, who meets again around the table to offer himself as aliment, minus the liturgy. Only flesh, desire and death denouncing prejudices and shaking up illusions. If we remember the work of Richard Hamilton Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? on it we see an archetype of naked man compromised by pornography. Elevated art, disarmed by the exaggerated representations of low art, to put it somehow, is no longer possible. Not even pornography is today capable of conforming subversive imaginaries with nakedness. The little licentious pornographic illusions reinforce conventions of normative sexuality, that is why representing the limbo of imagination and desire is much more effective.

The representation in both videos of the inclusion of rites that prevent sexual initiation have more to do with the fetish of the potential future, with the showing of masses of flesh while bodies oscillate between life and death. An object like virtual reality goggles turns the digital infinite into sensual image, necessary prosthesis as a space open to the transformation of bodies, a scape of the fixations of identity that depend on physical corporeality. In the eighties and nineties this image was often linked to the female body; today it faces the radical openness of the subject who has become God, claiming the idea of migration of the bodies not only in a digital context.

And despite flesh, colour and politics, we could accuse both texts of lingering too much on the genealogy of absence, images of nothingness, spaces destined to disappear in dreams, uprooted from the world. Inconveniently for this fake conscience of disappearance invading us; it’s this kind of images what multiplies. Since nothing will disappear while we manage to represent a space for desire.