Bad hair, vintage clothing

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Post by Eric McDade

Is making art from contemporary porn inherently less interesting?

No. But it seems that folks are more threatened by contemporary porn than “old” porn.

[Porn’s] primary purpose is undeniable and unshifting: it is simply pornography. Since contemporary porn is so [single-minded] in its societal function, its use within artwork can be problematic in that it, porn with a capital P, can tend to overshadow the artwork.

The stigma, taboo and general controversy surrounding contemporary porn holds too much baggage for many viewers to filter through. However, given historical distance, porn becomes (forgive me) less potent and controversial; its role becomes more malleable.

How?

I’m not so sure that historical distance is necessarily a signifier of authenticity. I’m more apt to think that it serves as a diminisher of taboo, rendering the once socially repellent or morally bankrupt (by mainstream conservative standards) pedestrian, even public domain.

[Woody Allen’s definition of comedy has some relevance here.] For as much as Woody Allen (shown) intended it to reinforce what a pompous ass Alan Alda’s character was in “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” his explanation of the formula for comedy (comedy = tragedy + time)actually has some relevance. And I believe porn is an arena affected by time much the same way tragedy is.

Compared with today’s porn, vintage porn appears tame, even a bit goofy, and eventually falls into the realm of kitsch (sorry about that). The forbidden element is softened and becomes the focus of teasing and laughter rather than fear and condemnation. Often, the impetus for this laughter is the most socially accessible target offered by the past: its clothing and hairstyles.

By focusing first on what we normally ridicule when looking through our own family albums, the sexual acts and posturings become secondary, thereby diffusing a once-threatening entity and rendering it as safe and neutral as any other medium.

Eric McDade, a Philadelphia artist, has two paintings in the Space 1026 show up through July 25 (see post July 13).

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