1. Whether a man who hires a boy to give him sexual massages that he terms “long strokes” (a caress “across his penis, thigh… and his anus over the butt cheeks,” as the luggage handler puts it. “Rekers liked to be rubbed down there”) is really and truly gay. (Is it fair to call Mel Gibson anti-Semitic just because he blames Jews for everything that’s wrong with the world, or sexist for calling a female cop “sugartits”?)However this plays out, one lesson couldn’t be clearer. Don’t carry luggage without a condom. Especially when you’re a man with a lot of dirty, heavy baggage.
2. If by calling someone gay who isn’t gay but gets hard when the young men he hires to daily massage his ass and penis in their shared hotel room is defamation or only if it would be considered defamatory by virtue of Rekers’ own widely publicized definitions?
3. If anyone with high profile positions such as board members at the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) or cofounders of the Family Research Council is qualified to show sinners the errors of their ways by ejaculation, or whether it requires special training?
4. Should NARTH, an organization claiming it can “cure” gay people (as if it’s as easy as curing a person of bigotry) be sued for defrauding the public by soliciting donations from unsuspecting morons who believe the “unwanted homosexual attractions” will go away by the application of Clockwork Orange techniques and the electrocution of children?
5. Whether NARTH, a “professional scientific organization with hundreds of academic, research, and clinical members” credentials its members by hiring young boys to massage them naked, or whether that’s more a family value espoused by the Family Research Council?
6. Is this how Rekers taught or inspired Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins and Ted Haggard, or was the “teaching” compromised by the use of condoms, failing to adequately impart the appropriate knowledge?
I know my newsletter is supposed to be more or less a monthly thing, and that the last one I sent was in January (or was it December?), but sometimes even I, who have so much to say about everything, has to take a breather and slip into an "observe" mode. It makes the pontificating just a tiny fraction more considered than simply spouting endlessly.
I haven't sent an update for so long that many people have asked me why I had taken them off my email list. Although I usually try and send an update about once a month, I realize it's been over 9 months -- long enough for me to have a child, which I didn't.
Much exciting news to report regarding my Torture exhibition, which, as most of you know, opened in January at Toomey Tourell Gallery in San Francisco. Next stops -- Beijing later this month, London in October and Miami in December. Reviews, by and large, have been really positive, and predictably, I received the requisite hate mail, accusing me of being everything from anti-American to a whiny, unpatriotic, liberal who has no idea what torture is. A sampling of reviews appears below.
Yesterday's London Observer referred to Fenando Botero and I in the same breath. This has happened before, like when Kenneth Baker reviewed Botero's show back in January, but it's usually in reviews on my show, not the other way round. I had an interesting, albeit short, introduction and chat with Mr. Botero myself when he visited the Bay Area for the opening of his show, which I will save for my next update, given the time constraints on this one already!
After much resistance to blogging, and the whole notion of zillions of people writing the equivalent of electronic diaries about what mood they're in at a particular point in time, or what music they're listening to, I started an experimental blog with San Francisco Chronicle's online presence, SFGate, although my postings are hopefully a little more insightful than what color outfit I'm wearing or whether or not I'm tired.
Till next time.
|MORE TORTURE: The Show Must Go On|
Aside from being excited at the prospect of visiting China for the first time, I am particularly interested seeing the reactions that result from an increasingly diverse and somewhat vocal Chinese populace. I also am enjoying being completely clueless as to who will react how to what. Will the exhibit be viewed as anti-American or anti-torture (perhaps a more sensitive topic with the Chinese!)? How will the perspective of Chinese artists differ from Chinese collectors or Chinese officials? I will keep you posted, rest assured.
20 September, 2007 - 23 September, 2007
Agriculture Exhibition Center
6, East 3rd Ring Road North Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
|Bridge Art Fair, London|
11 October - 14 October 2007
BRIDGE ART FAIR, LONDON
The Trafalgar Hotel
2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, London, UK
>>Bridge London Art Fair
|Flow Art Fair, Miami|
Flow Miami, at The Dorset Hotel, with Toomey Tourell will afford another opportunity to showcase the exhibition to an international audience, designed to run in tandem with Art Basel Miami Beach, an international art show becoming increasingly important with passing each year.
December 5, 2007 - December 9, 2007
FLOW ART FAIR, MIAMI
The Dorset Hotel
1720 Collins Avenue
South Beach, Florida
>>Flow Art Fair, Miami
|Criticism and Praise|
Robert Johnson, former curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Despite my efforts to "enlighten him" as he requested, he didn't seem to accept that my underlying commentary was essentially anti-torture, not necessarily anti-American nor anti-military. Many Americans, including those serving in the military, were not all that thrilled to have their reputations stained by a "few bad apples" (as Rumsfeld coined them), who, in reality, were the product of an entrenched, systemic problem. Johnson insisted that having a son serving in Iraq did not impact his reaction to my work.
>>Media and Reviews
|Zoe Trodd, Harvard|
Fein's work goes beyond this empathetic engagement. He features as a prison guard in this exhibition, and so emphasizes the dark side of engaged art-a troubling relationship between artist and subject. This dark side lurks throughout the protest tradition. For example, when Eddie Adams photographed General Loan in 1968, Loan treated the execution as a performance. He led the prisoner towards journalists, as though, without these witnesses present, he might not have bothered to pull the trigger. Watching and witnessing here provoked and defined an execution, and this complicated the morality of looking. Equally sinister is the fact that lynchings were a lucrative business for photographers, who would regularly document them. Some were even delayed until a photographer arrived, and mob, audience, and police officials regularly posed with the corpses. Many images were sent as postcards through the mail to participants' friends and relatives, often with the sender's face marked and a note to the effect of: "This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe."
Like Loan's execution and America's lynchings, the acts recorded in the original Abu Ghraib images look like performances for the camera's eye, as though the greatest shame of all was to have the moment documented for an audience, for posterity. And by including himself within the exhibition, Fein engages head-on this question of the photographer's presence at scenes of violence. Perhaps the artist is as sinister a figure as the original prison guard. Perhaps Fein enjoyed making violence as beautiful as this, and now asks us to enjoy it-asks us to take as much pleasure in these scenes as the original prison guards, with their grins and gestures. Perhaps Fein's camera, which demanded of his models full nudity and physical exhaustion, is as aggressive as the prison guard's club.
Zoe Trodd, Member of Tutorial Board in History and Literature. Harvard University, Clinton Fein's Tools and the Master's House of Torture, Gallery Introduction, January 13, 2007
|Kenneth Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle|
Several contemporary artists have tried to evoke the grotesqueries of war...But no one else has reached the peculiar extremes to which Fein goes. Using hired models, he re-enacted and photographed scenes of cruelty that were recorded in the notorious unofficial photographs of "detainee abuse" at Abu Ghraib. Fein presents these images as giant panel-mounted chromogenic prints.
To viewers who remember the Abu Ghraib images, Fein's pieces will look both grimly familiar and oddly aestheticized. Two are his inventions.
Encountering them in an art gallery provokes tangled responses: outrage that someone would advance his own ambitions through the degradations the Abu Ghraib photos record; perverse temptation by the opportunity to study the mise-en-scene of the original pictures, safe in the knowledge of seeing simulations; despair that history has again diverted the resources of art away from pleasure and contemplation to bleak and urgent critical functions; and, finally, the recognition that, after all the barriers between art and life come down, nothing insulates our enjoyment of the arts against toxic pollution from our knowledge of real events.
How far should simulation in art go? Will we next have to ponder a re-enactment of, say, Saddam Hussein's execution, or even Daniel Pearl's, merely because these images can be found on the Internet, and because they symbolize the degeneration of American foreign policy?
Kenneth Baker, The Horror of Torture, Reinterpreted through Art, The San Francisco Chronicle, January 20, 2007
|Michael Leaverton, San Francisco Weekly|
Clinton Fein usually comes across as a political art guerrilla, putting images of elected officials and controversial figures in digitally manipulated, uncompromising positions (Rudy Giuliani in a urine-filled glass, President Bush on a crucifix, Saddam Hussein as an "I Want You" Uncle Sam), which immeditely freaks everybody out -- especially the government. (His company's Web site, www.annoy.com, features a fine chronicle of the dust-ups.) But the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal gave him all he needed for his latest exhibit, "Torture." There are no loaded juxtapositions and no funny, morbid slogans, merely a faithful representation of the shocking photographs, blown up to mammoth size, which can leave you staggering about the gallery over the horror of it all.
Michael Leaverton, Precision Strike, SF Weekly, January 17, 2007
|Reyhan Harmanci, The San Francisco Chronicle|
Fein says that he became increasingly desensitized to the images he was creating as he staged more and more shoots, but he didn't lose all sense of the horror. Both he and his models found themselves involved in the physicality of the situation -- they complained of hurt knees, of the unpleasant weight of human bodies in the pyramid scenes -- and that lesson isn't lost on those who view the large-scale photographs either.
Like Stanley Milgram's infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, in which college boys transformed themselves into warring prisoners and wardens with breathtaking speed, Fein's photographs speak to the darker impulses of human nature, the power of context in determining behavior. There's a lot of evidence that the Abu Ghraib soldiers were filling roles designed for them by their superiors.
Reyhan Harmanci, The Bigger Picture, The San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 2007
|Alan Bamberger, ArtBusiness.com|
Clinton Fein makes "art" out of Abu Ghraib. But this quick walk through hell is not so much about Abu Ghraib, nor about America's insane megalomaniacal imprimatur, nor about dredging up yesterday's news. It's mainly about what happens to those friends and acquaintances of Fein who consent to help him re-enact these infamous episodes. You might think that since they know what they were getting into, it's no big deal... or is it? If you're not sure, Fein's got some video you might wanna check out. Suppose someone asked you to participate in such an exercise? Would you? Do you think it would be easy? And how about the original Iraqi unfortunates? How do you think they felt? How do you think they feel today? They had no choice, no inkling, no clue whether they'd be alive one moment and dead the next. Pick of First Thursday.
Alan Bamberger , Clinton Fein - Torture, ArtBusiness.com, January 4, 2007
|Juana Carrasco Martin, Periodico 26, Cuba |
The works will be exhibited under the name "Torture;" it could not be otherwise. It is not acceptable to use the euphemism "abuse," as is done in official government statements and by the press, when the reality is that United States carried out the most horrific crimes at Abu Ghraib.
This is not the first time that Clinton Fein has sparked controversy, or that the issue of Abu Ghraib has been dealt with; pictorial works by Colombian Fernando Botero have also spotlighted the misdeed. Fein however focuses on the choreography and "sexualization" of the torture, working with the images of naked prisoners, men forced into contorted positions, inmates made to simulate degrading and humiliating sexual acts. The artist pokes away and it exposes the dark side of a war that the American people were tricked into by their own government, and one in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been slaughtered.
The jolt of Abu Ghraib impacted the consciousness of many when the pictures were published in April 2004, and will have a continued impact through "Torture" by Clinton Fein.
It is a necessary reproduction because it is indispensable that the wave of indignation grow more powerful and systematic in order to do away with those who conceived, organized and ordered the execution of the war against Iraq.
Juana Carrasco Martin, Images of Torture by US Military Featured at California Art Gallery, Periodico 26, Cuba, January 3, 2007
|Kate Nicholson, Art Proper|
As much as Clinton Fein's photographs in his show at Toomey-Tourell (49 Geary St, San Francisco) are about torture and politics, they are more captivatingly about reversing what we see imbedded in the images. Certainly Fein is drawing viewers into a political debate on the abuse of prisoners in the Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, by re-presenting those now infamous images first published in April 2004. However, by re-photographing them with stylized, hyper-real clarity Fein is giving the viewer permission to look at what was shunned in the originals: the details and the psychology revealed in them.
His use of stylized, dramatic lighting indeed amps up these perversions to bring that agenda to the forefront and draws our attention directly to it. He has intentionally conflated aesthetic experience with shocking imagery. One could argue that Fein has aestheticized the grotesque with this approach. One could also argue that he simply intended to present an uncensored version. However, his intention is as blurred as his images are sharp. After all, he did include fictionalized re-staged scenes in this exhibition.
Kate Nicholson, Clinton Fein at Toomey-Tourell, Art Proper, January 22, 2007
|Andrew Sullivan, Time Magazine |
Clinton Fein, has recreated scenes from Abu Ghraib to bring home the consequences of the Bush administration's torture policy. Do not click if you are squeamish.
Andrew Sullivan, Looking at Torture, The Daily Dish, Time, January 2, 2007
|Pointing Fingers |
I am planning to send my posts to my email list, but am certain that not all of you all want to hear from me that often either. To that end, I have taken the liberty of adding you to my blog list, (which is probably more of a weekly thing than a monthly thing). However, if you prefer to simply receive the updates like you have before, and are not interested in receiving the blog updates as well, please just respond to the first one you receive with "unsubscribe" in the subject field. I realize time is precious and we all receive too much information already, so I promise I won't take offense (particularly since the process will be automated anyway!) Ideally though, you will forward it on to friends or people you think would enjoy (or hate) it, or better yet, respond in the comments section. Feedback is always good to receive, negative or positive.
Pointing Fingers on SFGate
Clinton Fein's Pointing Fingers
|Torture Video Promotion |
Simply click on the image below, and a new window will open.
It's worth watching on YouTube just to see some of the astounding reactions from those who have seen and commented on it.
MICHAEL PETRONKO GALLERY
478 West Broadway
New York, NY 10012
Tuesday - Sunday:
11 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
Monday by appointment
|Bridge London/Miami |
49 Geary Street San Francisco, CA 94108
Tuesday through Friday:
11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.