[spectre] Re: MILK, public

Andreas Broeckmann abroeck at transmediale.de
Fri Dec 3 10:53:01 CET 2004

dear reinhard, dear shu lea,

i was not aware that this was a private conversation, since reinhard 
quoted your message to me in a message titled 'spectre' ... i have no 
intention to drag things into the public unnecessarily, but since the 
piece is online and thus public already, i see no reason why its 
critical discussion should not also be? given the theme and the 
nature of the work, i'm surprised that you would introduce 'private' 
as a category here.

reinhard said:
>Andreas didn't react on my arguments,

not exactly true; i did say in my message: 'i would go along with the 
critical points that reinhard also makes and would just say that the 
alternative to an intellectually flawed comparison is not necessarily 
already 'politico-moralistic'; i think that in other works shulea has 
shown that her provocations can be both sharp and non-pc and 
artistically interesting. in my eyes, this one isn't. that's all.'

if you want it in detail, here we go:

>>>Dear Shu Lea
>>>Don't worry about my reaction. I know you don't tell anybody that 
>>>I opted for censoring MILK. But for critics it's an easy shortcut 
>>>to summarize curator + sponsorer/co-producer.
>>>So thank you for your correcting reply to Andreas and for your 
>>>good and sovereign arguments in reaction on the quality attack.
>>>Of course the quality discourse is open and necessery, and I also 
>>>think that the short circuit between porn and HIV death is 

i agree.

>>>But as I see it, MILK proposes this short circuit only on a first 
>>>(vocative) level, shouting: porn+dead, western culture + Africa, 
>>>committer+victim. This intention to be shrill on a first level is 
>>>handled in a very masterly way (in my dictionary I also find the 
>>>word 'virtuoso').

i don't agree.

>>>But on a second level of thinking about MILK there are only 
>>>'victims' and the looking for committers is somehow senseless. 
>>>There is a strong reference to bodies in MILK, it's a inexorable 
>>>body counting machine, numbering deads (abstract, only in numbers 
>>>and words, no pictures, as a cost per time counter on porn sites) 
>>>and counting/showing porn pictures (speaking both of commercial 
>>>sex and of love pleasure! This ambiguity, if that word exists in 
>>>english, is confusing and exciting/irritating).

i think it is irritating, in the english sense of the word; i think 
it is what i have called 'intellectually flawed'.

>>>For the slowly loading image in the background: you can see it 
>>>positive or negative, as a porn picture (a woman's breast full of 
>>>liquid out of a sperm tube, as they use it in the porn movie 
>>>industry) and you can see it as a woman's breast full of milk - 
>>>that's the title of the piece. It seems to be a nice woman with 
>>>nice breasts and the thought of milk on it is sexy. Milk on 
>>>breasts is prolific, fertile and opposes the idea and fact of 
>>>I know: there is the danger of over-interpretation. But the 
>>>intention of my arguments is to accent the nonlinear meaning of 
>>>MILK. It's provocative potential lies not only in the porn stuff, 
>>>but also in the fact that it doesn't give me the expected 
>>>politico-moralistic comment. That's a genuine quality of art. 
>>>(Sorry for my poor not mothertongue english)

while i agree that art has no obligation to be moralistic, it has to 
accept a critique that questions symbolic associations that an 
artwork implies; while i can follow the porn/sperm/milk/aids 
argument, i find the representation of this relation in the piece 
unconvincing; the implied moralism of the piece itself, ie by 
relating the consumption of internet porn (perpetrators?) to the 
dying of AIDS victims in africa, has the opposite of the 
transgressive impact that you suggest. for me, it re-introduces a 
heavy-handed moralism into a domain of (highly ambiguous) pleasure.

best regards,


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