A few months ago (in March, to be precise), I started noticing little rainbow flashes below streetlights lining my various routes around Cape Town. It’s amazing how such small things – almost always in peripheral vision, especially for a driver – can become so visible. I later discovered that these were crystals that had been installed as part of Infecting the City.
There is an obviously aesthetic element to refracted light, but I particularly loved the element of surprise. There was no fanfare or announcement; the artist spent a week hanging them, and then left them awaiting discovery. What a cool way of infecting the city, I thought.
I’m not going to attempt a definition of art beyond the aesthetic, or its potential to provoke or stimulate thinking.
In the name of art, photographer Clayton Cubitt has filmed a series of women reading from a favoured book. They are seated at a white table, the background is draped black and they are dressed elegantly. Out of sight, under the table, the photographer’s assistant is applying a high-powered vibrating massage device, with generally inevitable consequences. This aspect is not revealed during the video, so from the uninformed viewer’s perspective, the woman initially experiences difficulty in reading fluidly, eventually stops reading altogether, recovers her composure, and then ends the reading.
Even though Stoya (the above video) is in porn, the experience held its own surprises for her, as she writes about (here). You may also want to have a read of Clayton Cubitt’s interview with Salon.
Sexuality is such a complex issue, with so many sensitivities around it, that one could probably do just about anything with a sexual angle and get away with calling it art. Provoking thought or conversation is pretty straightforward in this territory, and the voyeuristic component of material with a sexual angle ensures that it ticks the aesthetic box.
In a sense, sexuality is hidden from view in much the same way as the colour spectrum hides within ordinary light, until refraction reveals its beauty. The rainbow flag, as a gay symbol, represents diversity, but in this context it could be just as meaningful to all the rest of us.
Instead of glowing with the joy of a confidently lived sexuality (dare I say “pride”) most of us live in the spectrum between discomfort, lack of confidence and outright shame, with a few little flashes of rainbow…