My hotel room is perched at the intersection of two freeways, and, with the window open to let in the hot summer air, I can hear the comforting hum of traffic. I have just gotten out of the shower and am starting at myself in the mirror, deciding whether or not to shave. I hear a knock on the door: it must be room service. With a towel around my waist, I open the door for the waiter, who wheels in my breakfast cart. He nervously fusses with the plates and flatware. I sign the check and thank him. He opens the door to exit the room. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that he is closing the door very slowly, in order that he can watch my reflection in the hallway mirror. Momentarily, I glimpse the raw desire in his eye. Does his desire arise because of, or in spite of, the limits placed upon it — by the social contract, and by his employer? Still in my towel, I take my breakfast plate from the cart and walk over to the chair. As I approach the seat, I realize that my towel has loosened. I am holding the plate with both hands and so I do not catch the towel. Rather, with confidence, I let it fall. Standing, plate in hand, I feel the gaze of the waiter upon me. I keep my back toward the door so as to bask in the familiar glow of this look. Like the warm sunshine beaming in from the window, cast against my skin, It affords me a blanket of comfort. Yet at the same time it dispossesses me. Centeredness and dispersal, life and death, as part of the same circuit. I sense the struggle is which he is engaged — how long can he remain, peering through a gap in the door, before he is discovered, whether by me, another hotel guest, or his boss? Embodying the struggle, he monitors himself. A space of tension has opened up, a gap that only assumes its potency through the impending threat of its closure, and of its subject’s exposure. Perhaps his body takes shape, as mine does, through the contouring properties of this space. It informs him, gives form to him. Like the billowing curtains, shaped by the morning breeze — arising only because of the wind channel established by the open window and the cracked door. Self-consciously, I stand there, and slowly begin to eat from my plate. The clacking of my fork beats time like a metronome, as the erotic energy — always compositional, rhythmic — circulates through the room with the hot summer air.


I am in my underwear, reclining in a makeshift bed, leaning back against the wall. My left knee is slightly raised, my legs provocatively spread apart. The position has been determined so as to accentuate the fill of my briefs, my penis and testicles falling to the right, with attention given to the contours they thereby produce. In actuality, I can only see my position from my own vantage point. Yet I know from experience what will look best, and in this sense I can see myself from the outside. My body is positioned with attention to line. My muscles are flexed, though only slightly, so as not to appear too rigid or eager. The ideal: an attitude of utmost confidence and ease, of fully inhabiting my sexual power, though in an open way, so that others can share in it too. Not a barricaded sexuality, but a playful, circuitous one. My pose in place, my gaze connects with the artists in the room, all of whom are now beginning to draw me. Their eyes move between me and their sketch pads, repeatedly, back and forth. They project their fantasies on me. I feel them, I can see these fantasies in their gazes, and this affects me, arouses me. I meet their gazes, lingering on each of them. The attention is reciprocated. It volleys between us. We meet within this ambiguous space of arousal. Drawings take shape there. I have a role in these drawings; I help structure the erotic circuit through which they are produced. Yet I make no claims on them. I simply want to be fully present in the process itself. To completely inhabit the generating network. Not to reinforce my body (or self), but rather, in a sense, to displace it — to generate an excess that always exceeds it. Ultimately it is this space of invention that interests me, rather than the drawings that result. They do not reveal so much as conceal.


I am riding the subway one night. It is very late, after the clubs have closed but before the sun has started to rise. A few people sit quietly in the jostling car. All of us, quite obviously, have indulged quite a bit in drinking, dancing, or simply prowling the streets. Once dominating the night, shaping it to our pleasures, we now surrender to it dutifully, sitting docile in the subway car. We simply want to get to bed. One of the passengers is a drag queen. Her makeup is a bit smudged, and her hair askew, but otherwise she is impeccably dressed. Now spent, she struggles to maintain her composure. At times, sleep claims her, and her head falls to the side. Then, as her head begins to sink too low, she catches herself and abruptly sits bolt upright, adjusting her wig and smoothing her dress. This struggle plays out for several minutes. Down. Up. Down. Up. Soft. Erect. We’ve all been there, I think. But never have I seen this struggle carried out with such determination. In the liminal space between night and morning, between masculine and feminine, she struggles to maintain the performance. Never has the struggle to perform the feminine — or the masculine, for that matter — been more clearly manifest. In this sleepy hour, when one would otherwise think the act was over, the labor of performing one’s identity increases. The struggle never ends. There is no audience, but there is always the potential one — the chance that at any time a glimpse might be taken of us. Should this happen, we want to be ready. Rehearsed.


I am standing at the doorway of a bar, in a strange city. A flight delay has caused me to miss my connection, and I am stuck here for one night. I am excited by the unique pleasure that this affords: that of being a complete stranger, in a city that I have never before visited. To be the mystery person, the screen upon which fantasies are projected. I step through the doorway of the bar with a swagger, then pause to scan the room. As if a stage actor in a solo scene, I do not meet the gaze of anyone in particular. By not looking, I invite others to look. Due to the fact that am alone, I invent a form of distributed companionship — a timeless consort who is everyone and no one, everywhere and nowhere. A Knowingness that is above and beyond the here-and-now. This is not intended to be read as arrogance, but rather, a potent combination of presence and absence, availability and disinterest. Anything less would dissolve the screen. Slowly and with confidence, I walk to the bar, while absorbing the scene, mapping the space. I sip my drink and then almost spill it, due to the startling appearance of an enormous, lascivious drag queen, who now looms above me. She points a long, red-painted nail at me and gives me the Call. With a parting of heavily painted lips and a commanding, heavily-lashed stare, she intones: You! I offer some resistance, then succumb. I am whisked away into a back room. I am instructed in the new rules of the game, along with four other recruits. I am now a Contestant. The drag queen stumbles out into the bar on shaky heels, arms aflail. A breathless introduction ensues. The Contest has begun. The bar crowd, which has now become an audience, applauds wildly. One by one, each of us enters onto the rickety, makeshift stage clad only in our underwear, as the drag queen, now wielding a bucket, hurls water at us. We then work the crowd and solicit applause. To win this game, one is expected to manage some degree of erection. If no degree of hardness is possible, the wet underwear simply clings to the contours of the groin and produces a small, unappealing mound. In this case, one must attempt to fool the eye, in the grand tradition of the dancer, the courtesan, the magician. What is sexuality if not a conjuring trick? Desire requires a labyrinth. I know the moves from watching others, and I make these moves work for me. I become someone I’m not. Yet perhaps I become more of the person that I really am? The answer depends upon who, ultimately, I am acting for, and the stakes that have been thereby raised. Stripped nearly naked, a stranger in a strange town, with no social profile to uphold, there is nothing much to lose. Yet there is certainly an amorphous judge for whom I act. The audience is simply one dimension of it, the drag queen its obscene face.


I am in the sauna at the gym, relaxing after a workout. A man sits across from me. He stares at my crotch for as long as appropriate, given the protocols of sauna life, then looks away. A few beats later, his gaze returns, sweeping across my body, circling around my midsection, resting upon on the bulge cast by my penis. I am not erect, yet I feel the stimulation of his gaze. I do not return his look, and so he must operate surreptitiously. Yet I am aware of his gaze; I do not block it. He senses this, and it affords him a certain level of permission. The dance continues. The atmosphere heats up. He subtly lifts his towel to show his hardness. He expects me to reciprocate, but I do not. Failing to rouse me, he offers a question: Can I touch you? I am momentarily stunned by his eruption into speech, and by his directness. Cruising is generally a nonverbal endeavor; when it does involve dialogue it is indirect, at least at first. I respond in the negative. At this point there are few avenues left to him. Quietly, he studies his options. He looks at me, looks down at my groin, looks at me again, then quietly asks: Can you show me? At the onset of this question, I feel a jolt of sexual excitement. So direct, so genuine. So powerful in its simplicity. The basic question that every child wants asked, summoned by every plea of Look at me! I briefly consider lifting my towel and offering myself to his gaze. Yet had I succumbed, the question would have lost all its power and resonance. I preferred to hold onto it. I held onto the query of Show Me, keeping it under wraps, heated, sweating, in an ambiguous state of arousal, like the concealed region of my body to which it referred.


The VIP room, tucked in the back of a large nightclub. People coming and going, making deals, hanging out. A very tall and narrow space with spot lighting that, due to the heat and cigarette smoke, generates a milky haze. I am standing in this room, shirtless. A club promoter, who I had only just met that evening, pulls my pants down, lowers himself to his knees, and takes me into his mouth. He works on me with quiet determination. My skin, slick with oil and sweat, shines under the spotlights. I spread my arms straight out to my sides in a gesture of surrender, or of heroic conquest — though with my pants bunched at my feet, I hardly look like a champion. Yet somehow I do seem privileged: the chosen one, anointed. The promoter kneels before me in a position of subservience, and this offers me the feeling of dominance. Yet, at the same time, I am the one who is vulnerable, weakened though the public display of my nakedness and hardness. Strength and weakness, private and public, back and forth: the promoter works on me with the regularity of a machine. Five minutes? One hour? Awash in the moment, time and space are warped. The volume of the room expands. The pleasure spreads through my body and into the social space around me; or rather, it comes from the outside in, circulating through me and back out into the social environment. If identity is social, coming from the outside, then perhaps pleasure is too. Is that why masturbation is never enough? One always wants a stage. Sometimes it is onset through the simplest means: a lens, a text message, a glance. Desire requires an architecture, whether real or imaginary. Secret spaces, performative arenas, labyrinths. Ways of looking, ways of attracting, ways of belonging. The nightclub is one such construct. One might go there for the possibility of sex, but after a time, the sexual act itself becomes pointless. It is public-ized, promoted, distributed throughout the connective space that the architecture creates. And this is ultimately why we sign on.

The texts in this column were written by Jordan Crandall.

Coming Attractions

Transformersfrom David Gibson, The Moving Image 6.1 (2006) 128-131:

In a world where the line between promotional discourse and narrative form is increasingly blurred, movie trailers stand out as one of the purest distillations of both. Trailers exploit cinematic techniques to create a mini-narrative, which entertains the audience while promoting a film. Perhaps because of their entertainment value, movie trailers manage to skirt the criticism reserved for more blatant forms of advertising. In fact, the popularity of trailers has, in some ways, eclipsed that of the films they are paired with… It is common knowledge of cinema and cultural studies that trailers are designed to speak directly to audience desire, although the true identity of this “audience,” or the film studios’ perception of the “audience-as-consumer,” has remained somewhat enigmatic throughout cinema’s history. Lisa Kernan’s book, Coming Attractions: Reading American Movie Trailers, sets out to unmask both the audience itself and the studios’ methods for enticing them to return to the theaters again and again.

In Kernan’s view, trailers are not merely advertisements for the films they promote but a cinematic genre in and of itself, with its own set of features and conventions. Though the author acknowledges trailers’ similarity to other forms of advertising, she points out that the main purpose of a movie trailer is to sell the desire for a unique cinematic experience rather than a specific physical object. Continue reading…

Selfhood through Dispossession

Judith Butlerfrom J. Aaron Simmons’ review of Judith Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself, JCRT 7.2, Spring 2006, pp. 85-87:

Counter to the predominant tradition in ethical theory — which claims that it is on the basis of a self-sufficient and free subject that we are able to assign agency, expect responsibility, and exact punishment for moral failure — [Judith] Butler argues that “what we often consider to be ethical ‘failure’ may well have an ethical valence and importance that has not been rightly adjudicated by those who too quickly equate poststructuralism with moral nihilism.” If Butler is right, then the basis for morality is not self-identity, but the exposure to others; not self-recursion, but constitutive incompleteness; not a final subjective narrative, but the continual desire and attempt to not close down the task of narrative itself.

…sociality, as Butler demonstrates drawing upon the work of Adriana Caverero, need neither be primarily conceived according to “the model of reciprocal recognition” (Hegel) nor the “view of life [that is] essentially bound up with destruction and suffering” (Nietzsche). Rather, selfhood is possible only as a dispossession from oneself in relation to the other. I am not my own and this fact is what lies behind the call to give an account of myself in the first place. “It is only in dispossession that I can and do given any account of myself,” Butler writes. Crucially, this constitutive sociality is not a problem for ethics, but the very wellspring from which problems can be viewed as ethical. Continue reading…

Living Display

gisele1rex0205_468×611.jpgfrom Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick, Counterposes, 2002:

Tableaux vivants, or “living pictures,” are perhaps the most recognizable form of living display. They became immensely popular in North America during the nineteenth century as a domestic pastime, a means for moral instruction and event, at times, a form of erotic entertainment. Other, less-benign forms of human exhibition — carnival sideshows, punishment spectacles, and colonial showcases — reduced handicapped, disposed or merely foreign individuals to “curiosities,” exotica or a vehicle for profit. In the twentieth century, performance artists have deliberately sought to confront such practices and transform cultural attitudes by working through the body.

In current media culture, living displays are so pervasive that they are for the most part taken for granted. Besides the work of performing artists, human beings are exhibited in the activities of supermodels, bodybuilders, living museums, and public relations events. The theme of living display, in addition, is inherent to the notion of the “photo opportunity,” where persons are staged for the benefit of journalists and the media. Such events have been organized by all manners of individuals, from governments to thrill seekers to political activists. Living displays are also a regular feature of nightclubs (go-go dancers in cages), department stores (living mannequins) and street culture.

Emma Bovary’s Cab

from Avital Ronell, Crack Wars, 1992, pp. 97:

Perhaps you were there on that hot summer day when the lovers were locked into the closure of absolute embrace, a cab that was impermeable to narration. Suddenly the window opened like a gaping mouth, ejecting a shredded text. The wind started scattering the remains of the a letter of rupture that Emma had written to Léon. We felt we could tell what was happening, sitting at the square with our panachés. The thing kept coming around, as our companion observed, “a carriage with drawn blinds which kept appearing and reappearing, closed as tightly as a tomb and rocking like a ship.” He later confided that the coach staged a paradigm of interlocking private and public textual maneuvering. The most private of acts was to be performed in a public space from which it nevertheless concealed itself, evoking something as openly private, the open space of a sealed casket.


Backfrom Jean-Luc Nancy, A Finite Thinking (2003), pp. 39-40; 45:

To conceal, dérober, to dis-guise, if you like, is also to disrobe. And yet this is but one aspect of the term, since “robe” and “disrobe” have the same origin (as English “rob” or German rauben suggest, the robe would, in the first instance, be a garment seized by a thief). We all know Bataille’s phrase “I think in the same way that a woman undresses,” and there are plenty of texts that deal with what is thus laid bare. A thinking that conceals itself, therefore, is also one that undresses itself, that disrobes, exposing itself, more specifically, as a naked woman: as truth.

To be naked is, first and foremost, to be undressed, to be without any covering that could present or signify a state or a function. It is to reveal everything but, at the same time, to show that there is nothing more to see. It is to show that there’s nothing beyond nakedness except still more nakedness. Hence, I cannot see nakedness except by placing it at a distance from the object, by situating it in terms of the (medical, anthropomorphic…) object. I see nakedness only by entering into it, or by letting it enter into me.

What this means is that nakedness can only be opened or, rather, that it is itself an opening. And this, in turn, means that nakedness touches on the other. There is no solitary nakedness. If I am naked and alone, I am already an other to myself, an other with myself. By its very essence, a nakedness touches on another nakedness: it wants to touch, no longer to see, to enter into the night of nakedness. It touches it and opens it by opening itself to it. And yet, essentially obscure and devoid of all foundation, all it opens is its closure; it leads onto the night. But it still leads; it still opens. Continue reading…

Continuous and Discontinuous Being

showing5.JPGfrom Georges Bataille, Death and Sensuality (1962), pp. 12-13, 17-18:

It is my intention to suggest that for us, discontinuous beings that we are, death means continuity of being. Reproduction leads to the discontinuity of beings, but brings into play their continuity; that is to say, it is intimately linked with death. I shall endeavor to show, by discussing reproduction and death, that death is to be identified with continuity, and both of these concepts are equally fascinating. This fascination is the dominant element in eroticism…The whole business of eroticism is to destroy the self-contained character of the participators as they are in their normal lives.

Stripping naked is the decisive action. Nakedness offers a contrast to self-possession, to discontinuous existence, in other words. It is a state of communication revealing a quest for a possible continuance of being beyond the confines of the self. Bodies open out into a state of continuity through secret channels that give us a feeling of obscenity. Obscenity is our name for the uneasiness which upsets the physical state associated with self-possession, with the possession of a recognized and stable individuality. Through the activity of organs in a flow of coalescence and renewal, like the ebb and flow of waves surging into one another, the self is dispossessed, and so completely that most creatures in a state of nakedness, for nakedness is symbolic of this dispossession and heralds it, will hide; particularly if the erotic act follows, consummating it. Stripping naked is seen in civilizations where the act has full significance if not as a simulacrum of the act of killing, at least as an equivalent shorn of gravity. In antiquity the destitution (or destruction) fundamental to eroticism was felt strongly and justified linking the act of love with sacrifice.

… Continuity is what we are after, but generally only if that continuity which the death of discontinuous beings can alone establish is not the victor in the long run. What we desire is to bring into a world founded on discontinuity all the continuity such a world can sustain.

Secrets and Betrayals

from Caravaggio’s Secretsfrom Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, Caravaggio’s Secrets (1998), p. 39-42:

…Jean Laplanche has recently located the category of the enigma at the very point of emergence of what might be called the psychoanalytically constituted subject… Adult sexuality is implanted in the child in the form of what Laplanche calls an enigmatic signifier — that is, a message by which the child is seduced but which he or she cannot read.

…It is how we read the summons, the seduction, the soliciting that determines who or what we are. The inability to decipher the enigmatic signifier constitutes us as sexual beings, that is, beings in whom desire or lack is central. However peculiar it may seem to speak of desire as an epistemological category, we propose that desire as lack is constituted, originally, as the exciting pain of a certain ignorance: the failure to penetrate the sense of the other’s soliciting — through touch, gesture, voice, or look — of our body. This failure is itself dependent on a more fundamental reading: the reading of the soliciting as a secret. The secrets of the unconscious may be nothing more than the introjection of the secrets the other involuntarily persuades us to believe he or she holds without allowing us to read them. The withheld being with which the other addresses us is the other’s desirability.

…The enigmatic signifier structures a relation according to fixed gazes — not only the gaze of the one being seduced, but also the gaze of the seducer, who is himself (or herself) seeking in the curious and subjugated look of the other the secret of his (or her) own seductive power. But his work also allows Caravaggio to experiment with a gaze diverted from a space circumscribed by a mutual fascination. The youth in the Fortune Teller raises the possibility of spatial interests not defined or directed by the imaginary secrets of the other. Perhaps the exploration of this possibility requires a suspension of strictly human interests, a removal from those existential contexts in which paranoid fascination is the human subject’s spontaneous response to the other’s soliciting (or even interested) gaze.

Caravaggio effects this removal by a betrayal of his subjects. The historical configurations of these subjects are reproduced in his painting, but at the same time the subjects appear, for the first time, as models of a relationality within which their historicity dissolves. The relations that emerge from this shift of register reformulate both intersubjectivity and metaphysics. Caravaggio is a crucial figure in the history of a suspicion fatal to the procedures and the confidence of philosophy: the suspicion that truth cannot be the object of knowledge, that it cannot be theorized. More exactly, the notion of truth itself is a consequence of the primacy given to knowledge. And knowledge “misses” being; it comes, so to speak, when we cease to remember that being happens not as a demonstration but as a kind of showing.

Ass and Face

bathroom-mirror_jpg.jpgfrom Catherine Millet, The Sexual Life of Catherine M., trans. Adriana Hunter (2002) p. 177:

To show my ass and see my face. There are few pleasures equal to this double polarity. The layout of the bathroom is perfect: while the basin offers a perfect gripping point to brace the shocks to my rear end, I intermittently catch sight of my harshly lit face in the mirror above it, a face that — quite unlike my lower half, which is totally mobilized — is almost lifeless. The cheeks are hollow and the mouth half open like a windup doll whose mechanism has worn down. It could be the face of a dead woman except for the eyes, which are intolerably listless. I try both to avoid them by lowering my eyelids and to seek out their gaze. That gaze is the anchoring point; it is by seeing its reflection that I establish this certainty: there I am, that is me coming. It is the siphon through which all of me is evacuated: I cannot recognize myself in such a state of release; with a feeling of shame, I reject it. That is how pleasure stays on a knife edge: just as the multiplication of two negative numbers gives a positive number, this pleasure is the product not, as is sometimes said, of an absence from oneself but of the bringing together of this perceived absence and the feeling of horror that it provokes in a flash of conscience. Sometimes I bring myself to this peak of pleasure all by myself, as an interval in my bathroom routine. With one hand on the edge of the basin and the other one masturbating, I watch myself in the mirror out of the corner of my eye.

Nonidentitarian Sameness

caravaggio-taking-of-the-christ-797656.jpgfrom Tim Dean, Hal Foster, and Kaja Silverman, “A Conversation with Leo Bersani,” October, Vol. 82 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 3-16:

Leo Bersani: … I am interested in a pleasure in losing or dissolving the self that is in no way equated with loss, but comes rather through rediscovering the self outside the self. It is a kind of spatial, anonymous narcissism…

…This is the move Ulysse [Dutoit] and I trace in Caravaggio’s painting: from the teasingly enigmatic eroticism of the portraits of boys to the nonsexual sensuality of physical contacts, extensions, and correspondences, from a problem of knowledge (and interiority) to a kind of cartography of the subject, a tracing of spatial connectedness.

Kaja Silverman: …what interests me is the move you make beyond the categories we conventionally use to think the relational — categories like bodies and psyches. So I’m still very fascinated with that period of your and Ulysse Dutoit’s writing that extends from The Culture of Redemption, through Arts of Impoverishment, to Homos. Think, for instance, of the following formulation in Homos: “His sexual preference,” you write of a protagonist in Gide, “is without psychic content; there are no complexes, no repressed conflicts, no developmental explanations; only the chaste promiscuity of form repeatedly reaching out to find itself beyond itself.” With a sentence like this, you help us rethink the relational in terms of design. You remind us that the ego is in fact a form, although we don’t usually think about it that way… There is a lot to be gained in thinking about the ego in formal terms. First, it’s de-anthropomorphizing. It permits us to begin conceptualizing relationality outside the usual human categories, which have become very reduced in recent years through the insistence upon race, class, gender, etc. It helps us to understand that what we are at the level of the ego may be a much more complex issue than we are accustomed to imagining… Continue reading…

Coquetry on Board

querelle.jpgfrom Jean Genet, Querelle, trans Anselm Hollo (1974), p. 82, 84:

And then, without understanding why, Querelle noticed a slight relaxation of the officer’s rigid attitude. Spontaneously, with the amazing sense for putting their attractions to work for them that young men have, even those to whom any degree of methodical coquetry is quite foreign, he gave his voice a somewhat sly inflection, and his body, relaxing too, became animated from neck to calves — by the almost imperceptible shifting of one foot in front of the other — by a series of short-lived ripples that were truly graceful and reminded Querelle himself of the existence of his buttocks and shoulders. Suddenly he appeared as if drawn in quick, broken lines, and, to the officer, drawn by the very hand of the master.

Within his body, his anxiety was giving rise to a most exquisite sensation. Querelle called his star: his smile. And the star appeared. Querelle kept on moving forward, planting his wide feet firmly on the deck. He gave a slight roll to his hips, narrow as they were! — to provide a little action there in the midriff region, where an inch of his white underpants showed above the wide, plaited leather belt, buckled at the back. He had of course registered, and not without spite, that the Lieutenant’s gaze often dwelled on that region of his physique, and he had a natural awareness of his own seductive points. He thought of them in a serious manner, sometimes with a smile, that habitual, sad smile of his. He also swung his shoulders a little, but the motion, like that of his hips and his arms, was more discreet than usual, closer to himself, more internalized, one might say. He was hugging himself: or one might say, he was playing at being huggable.

The Gaze in Fassbinder

ali_fear.jpgfrom Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins (1992), pp. 126-128:

Identity, as psychoanalysis has taught us, necessitates the internalization of a series of things which are in the first instance external. Freud insists upon this principle with respect both to the ego and the super-ego, defining the former as the psychic mapping of what is initially a body-image, and the latter as the introjection of parental authority, in the guise, for instance, of the father’s voice. Lacan’s account of the mirror stage further elaborates this notion of an exteriority which is taken within the subject, first in the guise of its mirror image, subsequently in the form of parental imagoes, and later yet in the shape of a whole range of cultural representations, the moi becoming over time more and more explicitly dependent upon that which might be said to be “alien” or “other.” What Lacan designates the “gaze” also manifests itself initially within a space external to the subject, first through the mother’s look as it facilitates the “join” of infant and mirror image, and later through all of the many other actual looks with which it is confused. It is only at a second remove that the subject might be said to assume responsibility for “operating” the gaze by “seeing” itself being seen even when no pair of eyes are trained upon it — by taking not so much the gaze as its effects within the self. However, consciousness as it is redefined by Lacan hinges not only upon the internalization but upon the elision of the gaze; this “seeing” of oneself being seen is experienced by the subject-of-consciousness — by the subject, that is, who arrogates to itself a certain self-presence or substantiality — as a seeing of itself seeing itself.

What happens within Fassbinder’s cinema is that both the gaze and the images which promote identity remain irreducibly exterior, stubbornly removed from the subject who depends upon them for its experience of “self.” [Thomas] Elsaesser has touched upon the first of these exteriorizations in “Primary Identification and the Historical Subject: Fassbinder and Germany,” although his emphasis falls more fully upon the exhibitionism of Fassbinder’s characters than upon the gaze on which they depend:

Their endless waiting wants to attract someone to play the spectator, who would confirm them as subjects, by displaying the sort of behavior that would conform to the reactions they expect to elicit. The audience is inscribed as voyeurs, but only because the characters are so manifestly exhibitionist. Substantiality is denied to both characters and audience, they derealize each other, as all relations polarize themselves in terms of seeing and being seen… to be, in Fassbinder, is to be perceived, esse est percipi.

The film through which Elsaesser pursues his thesis… is Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973), but there are many other texts in that filmmaker’s oeuvre where characters display themselves in this way to whomever will look, and in which subjectivity is consequently shown to depend upon a visual agency which remains insistently outside. “We are watched on all sides,” the singer, Tripelli (Barbara Valentin) warns in Effi Briest (1974), a curse which turns into a lost source of sustenance when the socius finally looks away from Effi. Continue reading…

Coincidence of Body and Image

story.jpgfrom Catherine Millet, The Sexual Life of Catherine M., trans. Adriana Hunter (2002) pp. 208-209:

Another film shows the whole of my body, behaving as it never would dressed, as I carry out my normal day-to-day tastes. Jacques, the director, makes me go up and down the stairs of our building twenty times in a dress of transparent black linen. As if I were wearing a normal, opaque dress and being followed by an X-ray camera, you can make up from behind the pneumatic animation of my buttocks, and in front, you can see the trembling in my breasts each time one of my feet comes down a step, while my public hair disappears into a wide shadow when it rubs up against the cloth. Even though my flesh has density, the silhouette is transient. For the next sequence, Jacques asks me to stand in the little shelter where the concierge works during the day, first with the top of the dress rolled down to my waist and then without the dress, and he asks me to adopt the various poses of the job. Oh, if only you could leave home and go to work with nothing on like that! It wouldn’t be just the weight of the clothes we would be freed from, it would also be the heaviness of the body, which they would take with them. I admit it: the role that Jacques makes me play coincides so precisely with my own fantasies that I am unusually disturbed, almost embarrassed to find myself more naked than my nakedness. We go back into the apartment. There, by contrast, my body stands out very clearly against the white sofa. In the middle the hand comes and goes slowly, weighed down by a huge ring, and it is only the intermittent glinting of this ring that compromises the clarity of the image. My thighs and legs are spread wide, inscribing an almost perfect square. That is what I see today, but at the time I knew that it was what the man behind the camera was seeing. When, without putting the camera down, he came to remove my hand, my passage in which he slid was tumescent as never before. The reason was immediately clear: I was already filled by the coincidence of my real body and these multiple, volatile images.

Recovering Love

woman_and_child.jpgfrom Theodor Reik, Of Love and Lust (1957):

It is true that we could not love if there were not some memory in us — to the greatest extent an unconscious memory — that we were once loved. But neither could we love if this feeling of being loved had not at some time suffered doubt; if we had always been sure of it. In other words, love would not be possible without having been loved and then having missed the certainty of being loved…

The need to be loved is not elementary. This need is certainly acquired by experience in later childhood. It would be better to say: by many experiences or by a repetition of similar ones. I believe that these experiences are of a negative kind. The child becomes aware that he is not loved or that his mother’s love is not unconditional. The baby learns that his mother can be dissatisfied with him, that she can withdraw her affection if he does not behave as she wishes, that she can be angry or cross. I believe that this experience arouses feelings of anxiety in the infant. The possibility of losing his mother’s love certainly strikes the child with a force which can no more be coped with than an earthquake…

The child who experiences his mother’s dissatisfaction and apparent withdraw of affection reacts to this menace at first with fear. He tries to regain what seems lost by expressing hostility and aggressiveness… The change of its character comes about only after failure; when the child realizes that the effort is a failure. And now something very strange takes place, something which is foreign to our conscious thinking but which is very near to the infantile way. Instead of grasping the object directly and taking possession of it in an aggressive way, the child identifies with the object as it was before. The child does the same that the mother did to him in that happy time which has passed. The process is very illuminating because shapes the pattern of love in general. The little boy thus demonstrates in his own behavior what he wants his mother to do to him, how she should behave to him. He announces this wish by displaying his tenderness and affection toward his mother who gave these before to him. It is an attempt to overcome the despair and sense of loss in taking over the role of the mother. The boy tries to demonstrate what he wishes by doing it himself: look, I would like you to act thus toward me, to be thus tender and loving to me. Of course this attitude is not the result of consideration or reassured planning but an emotional process of identification, a natural exchange of roles with the unconscious aim of seducing the mother into fulfilling his wish. He demonstrates by his own actions how he wants to be loved. It is a primitive presentation through reversal, an example of how to do the thing which he wishes done by her. In this presentation lives the memory of the attentions, tendernesses, and endearments once received from the mother or loving persons.

Rendezvous with Sight

800px-nyc_subway_park_place1.jpgfrom Wayne Koestenbaum, Cleavage (2000) pp. 50-51:

Most straight men I know aren’t entirely straight anymore, or they don’t make a big deal of their straightness. They move with the balletic freedom once the preserve of confident gay men like the legendary dancer Jack Cole. Even men who identify themselves as heterosexual do so less adamantly, and incorporate into their style of physical self-presentation a peacock insouciance — a way of showing neck, abdomen, crotch, forearm — that proves them willing to be looked at, happy to be considered an exhibit. It is no longer possible at quick glance to tell straight and gay men apart, and making this distinction no longer seems the most practical or intellectually defensible exercise. On the subway it is no longer possible to know whether the men who stand, holding the silver bars for support, waiting for their stop, and swaying to the erratic movement of the car, are straight, because their principal rendezvous, as they ride, is not with any particular gender, but is an assignation with sight — the gaze of any voyeur or fellow traveler, male or female, anyone who allows herself the luxury of visual curiosity (does this man know I am looking at him? does he know that he radiates a desire to be looked at?). The men I see on the S train connecting Grand Central and Times Square care to be seen, and they dress with acute consciousness of belly and backside.


narcissus.jpgFrom Jean Baudrillard, Seduction (1990), p. 68:

All reflection theory is impoverished, particularly the idea that seduction is rooted in the attraction of like to like, in a mimetic exaltation of one’s own image, or an ideal mirage of resemblance. Thus Vincent Descombes, in L’Inconscient malgré lui, writes:

What seduces is not some feminine wile, but the fact that it is directed at you. It is seductive to be seduced, and consequently, it is being seduced that is seductive. In other words, the being seduced finds himself in the person seducing. What the person seduced sees in the one who seduces him, the unique object of his fascination, is his own seductive, charming self, his lovable self-image…

It is always a matter of self-seduction and its psychological vicissitudes. In the narcissistic myth, however, the mirror does not exist so that Narcissus can find within himself some living ideal. It is a matter of the mirror as an absence of depth, as a superficial abyss, which others find seductive and vertiginous only because they are each the first to be swallowed up in it.

All seduction is in this sense narcissistic, and its secret lies within this mortal absorption.

Masochism and Subjectivity

1.jpgfrom Amber Musser, “Masochism: A Queer Subjectivity?”, rhizomes 11/12 (fall 2005/spring 2006):

While [Judith] Butler highlights the social context required to endow a subject’s performance with significance, [Gilles] Deleuze’s masochist is created in the intersubjective space between the dominant and the submissive as opposed to within a larger social context. Masochism can be thought as reciprocity dependent on local, contingent differences where the intersubjective relation takes precedence to the individual. The crucial exchanges between the dominant and submissive, which anchor masochistic notions of agency are based on the differences assigned in their contract and articulated in their performance, which in turn produces their identities. The performative aspect of masochism depends on the locality of perception between performers. Beyond the broader notion of context, whereby certain acts take on meaning because of their location, perception, which operates on a more intimate level between performers, is significant because it creates the identities of the performers, even as they create the performance. In the ambiguous terrain between reality and fantasy, the self is figured as a potential, not an identity because identity relies on interaction from others (the audience and the other performers) in the performative exchange. Both the dominant and submissive anticipate the reaction and action of the other, altering their performances and identities accordingly. This suggests that identities are contingent and fluid, relying on difference and requiring intersubjectivity for their creation and manipulation. Through this, we gain an understanding of becoming as a continuous social process that is equally dependent on relations with others and regulatory norms.

Yet this process of becoming is also embodied, which points to another key difference between Deleuze’s masochist and Butler’s subject. Continue reading…

In the Bedroom of the Countess

masoch.jpgLeopold von Sacher-Masoch, 1888, as reproduced in Masochism, trans. Jean McNeil (1989), p. 276:

At the age of ten I already had an ideal woman. I yearned for a distant relative of my father’s — let’s call her Countess Zenobia — the most beautiful and the most promiscuous woman in the country.

It happened on a Sunday afternoon: I shall never forget it. I had come to play with the children of my aunt-in-law — as we called her — and we were left alone with the maid. Suddenly the countess, proud and resplendent in her great sable cloak, entered the room, greeted us, kissed me (which always sent me into raptures) and then exclaimed: “Come, Leopold, I want you to help me off with my furs.” She did not have to ask me twice. I followed her into the bedroom, took off the heavy furs that I could barely lift, and helped her into the magnificent green velvet jacket trimmed with squirrel that she wore about the house. I then knelt to put on her gold-embroidered slippers. On feeling her tiny feet in my hands I forgot myself and kissed them passionately. At first my aunt stared at me in surprise, then she burst out laughing and gave me a little kick.

While she was preparing our tea we played hide-and-seek; I do not know what devil prompted me to hide in my aunt’s bedroom. As I stood concealed behind a clothes rack, I heard the doorbell and a few moments later my aunt entered the bedroom followed by a handsome young man. She closed the door without locking it and drew her lover into her arms.

I did not understand what they were saying, still less what they were doing, but my heart began to pound, for I was acutely aware of my situation: if they discovered me I would be taken for a spy. Overcome with dread, I closed my eyes and blocked my ears. I was about to betray my presence by sneezing, when suddenly the door was flung open and my aunt’s husband entered into the room accompanied by two friends. His face was crimson and his eyes flashed with anger. But as he hesitated for a moment, wondering no doubt which of the two lovers to strike first, Zenobia anticipated him.

Without a word, she rose, strode up to her husband and gave him an energetic punch on the nose. He staggered; blood was pouring from his nose and mouth. But my aunt was still not satisfied; she picked up a whip and, brandishing it, showed my uncle and his friends the door. The gentlemen were only too glad to slip away, and not last among them, the young admirer. At that moment the wretched clothes rack fell to the ground and all the fury of Madam Zenobia was poured out on me: “So you were hiding, were you? I shall teach you to play at spying.”

I tried in vain to explain my presence, but in a trice she had seized me by the hair and thrown me on the carpet; she then placed her knee on my shoulder and began to whip me vigorously. I clenched my teeth but could not prevent the tears from springing to my eyes. And yet I must admit that while I writhed under my aunt’s cruel blows, I experienced acute pleasure. No doubt her husband had more than once enjoyed a similar sensation, for soon he returned to her room, not as an avenger but as a humble slave; it was he who fell down at the feet of the treacherous woman and begged her pardon, while she pushed him away with her foot. Then they locked the door. This time I was not ashamed, and did not block my ears, but listened attentively at the door — either from spite or childish jealousy — and again I heard the crack of the whip that I had tasted only a moment before.

This event became engraved on my soul as with a red-hot iron; I did not understand at the time how this woman in voluptuous furs could betray her husband and maltreat him afterward, but I both hated and loved the creature who seem destined, by virtue of her strength and diabolical beauty, to place her foot insolently on the neck of humanity.

Bodybuilding as Drag

bodybuilder1.jpgfrom Micha Ramakers, Dirty Pictures (2000) pp. 119-120:

Much attention has been given in recent years to the role, effects, and possible political implications of drag. Rather less critical interest has been manifested in the effects of what could be called hypermasculinity. Yet … two are intimately linked. This would seem to be borne out if one considers recent theoretical arguments about drag. John Champagne has argued that drag should be read as “nonproductive expenditure,” i.e., wasteful energy, aimed at creating a high degree of affect: “In its excessive deployment of both costuming and affect, drag displaces the disciplined, restrained, and efficient body of the modern gendered subject with an image of the body as melodrama. The modestly gendered body of the disciplinary subject is countered by one ostentatiously dressed and excessively sexualized, a body whose gestures are both extravagantly stylized and wastefully deployed.” The gay male bodybuilder is deeply involved in precisely this activity. He is creating a body, at great cost, “wastefully” deploying a maximum of energy (he is not going to use his muscles for physical labor), for no other reason than bringing about an “excessively sexualized” effect… His body distinguishes itself from that of its “disciplined” fellow men by pushing masculinity to its farthest limit: like drag, gay male bodybuilding plays with the limits of masculinity and femininity and often ends up as a parody of its gender characteristics.

Parts and Sightlines

Jean-Luc Godard, Le Méprisfrom Catherine Millet, The Sexual Life of Catherine M., trans. Adriana Hunter (2002), pp. 176-177:

Description cuts bodies into pieces, satisfies the need to fetishize them, to instrumentalize them. That famous scene in Godard’s Le Mépris, when, word for word, Piccoli runs over Bardot’s body, is a beautiful transposition of the two-way traffic between sight and speech, each word bringing into focus a part of the body. How many times people say “Look!” when they’re fucking. Of course, you are at your leisure to see things close at hand, but in order to see well, we sometimes also need to stand back, they way we move back from an exhibit in a museum. Undressing, I love to gaze at a promising-looking cock. Abiding by the law of the Gestalt theory, it looks enormous in relation to the body, which becomes almost fragile in its — sometimes laughable — seminudity and its unexpected isolation in the middle of the room; in any event, the cock certainly looks bigger than it would if I was looking at it on its own. In the same way, I can, without any warning, break out of the game and go and stand a couple of meters away, with my back turned, my hands forced onto my buttocks to spread them as far apart as possible, bringing into the same sight line both the brownish crater of the asshole and the crimson valley of the vulva. An invitation become imperative, like a greengrocer saying: “You must taste this fruit,” I’m saying, “You must look at my ass.” And because things are more picturesque when they are animated, I make it quiver.


image above: Jean-Luc Godard, Le Mépris

Inhabiting the Brand

Inhabiting the BrandMichael Sorkin
on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, 1999
originally published on December 26, 1999 in The New York Times:

We’ve been hearing for years that Times Square is becoming a theme park, and so it is. But the million and a half revelers who gather there on New Year’s Eve may have some difficulty, as I have, discerning exactly the theme. When a million and a half cameras flash at midnight, what will they be photographing beyond a million and a half other flashes?

A few weeks ago, I was walking by the building where J.F.K. Jr. used to live — 50-plus blocks south of Times Square — when I noticed that a tourist in the usual knot photographing the place was carrying an ”NBC Experience” plastic bag. As coincidence had it, I had actually experienced the ”Experience” (which is the NBC store, not far from Times Square) the previous day, and it had perplexed me. Why, I wondered, surveying the knickknacks, would someone want to buy an MSNBC baseball cap? Out of solidarity with the giant corporation? As a gesture of affection toward the cute Brian Williams?

Seeing the tourist completed some circuit. I realized that she was having a TV news moment. Caught up in the NBC loop, she was performing a tiny re-enactment of the big media routine, authorized by the logo to intrude on the scenes of celebrity and grief like a real reporter. The Experience, I realized, was no mere souvenir store but the setup for this. Dominating the shop, monitors endlessly showed a clip of the Zapruder film segueing over and over into the ”I have a dream” speech. It was all an advertisement for ”news,” newszak. The news was the word from our sponsor, NBC, and that repeated image of the presidential assassination gave value to those stacks of ”Today Show” mugs and vice versa. This was the purpose of the place: branding everything, including experience.

For this to work best, both the site of experience and the experiencer must carry the brand. Think of the teenager in the Tommy T-shirt or the tourist in the MSNBC baseball cap. A deal has been cut here. By agreeing to bear the brand, we express our willingness to surrender our identities and be seen as . . . advertising. This provides a thrill, of sorts. It is the closest we get to being like real celebrities, who are recognizable enough to be their own brands, logos for themselves. Real celebrity implies even more generous license to stare, to admire something beyond purchase. And it’s irresitible, reflexive. Last week, I had a Gwyneth moment. Before I knew what I was doing, I turned in my tracks to gawk, trapped.

Times Square has become the epicenter, a universal photo-op, pure celebrity. Celebrity thrives on branding, and branding is the theme of the new Times Square. In our media age, brands are no longer static, optic things, but are transmitted by all available means — flashing lights, skyscrapers, coffee mugs, T-shirts, TV shows, magazines, postcards, ashtrays, margarita glasses, plastic bags, you name it. Times Square — one of the few places in America where the zoning laws oblige every building to advertise as intensely as possible — has become Brandland, U.S.A.

No coincidence that among the sprouting skyscrapers of the new Times Square, media headquarters dominate, from Reuters to Bertelsmann to Conde Nast to the eponymic ex-HQ of The Times itself. (Note to out-of-towners: the skinny building at the south end of the square, on which the balls drops, was originally the home of The Times, though it has been long gutted of inhabitants, flayed of its skin and reclad as pure pixel-ated advertising space.) And now throughout the area, all the networks (and MTV) have fishbowl-style broadcast environments — stationary Popemobiles — for their morning shows, the lead disassemblers of the news-entertainment distinction. Hungry crowds form fascinated backdrops. Standing with homemade signs, they become little billboards among the big, craning to be viewed (like those football fans with their crudely logoed network banners the cameras always find in the stands).

Still, there’s a whiff of the old Times Square: those studios are a lot like traditional peep shows. The object is still to be safely part of something unattainable, whether it’s a naked woman’s attentions or a chat with Diane Sawyer and Bill Bradley. The electronic entertainment offered in Times Square is much the same. Visiting the ESPN Zone (not a sporting-goods store but a sports-themed experience), playing solipsistic soccer (kick the tethered ball; miss to the taunts of the animated goalie on the screen), I felt like just another lonely guy peeping through the glass. Of course, it has been ”cleaned up” for a G rating: the louche quality of the banished sex industry has been replaced by less controversial forms of pornography and voyeurism: 100 yards of Kate Moss in her Calvins, the porno violence of video games, the chance to glimpse Anna Wintour heading out for her daily bunless burger at lunch.

The apotheosis will come at midnight on New Year’s Eve, when 1.5 million press their noses against the glass of the Y2K. They will be watching television, all eyes focused on the state-of-the-art, 24-ton Astrovision screen that has been glued to the north face of the Times Tower (and which is currently blasting NBC product 18 hours a day). As the man from the manufacturer puts it, ”It’s an opportunity for Panasonic to have our brand name in the middle of the crossroads of the world at one of the biggest moments in history.” No hyperbole, this. Fifteen cameras placed around the square will feed the screen images of the crowd, enabling it to watch itself watching itself along with another billion or so souls around the globe watching it watching itself and watching themselves watching it, unpaid extras in the spectacle of their own amusement, hoping simply to be seen.


In our cultural landscape of blogs, webcams, profiles, live journals, and lifecasting, the intimate lives of everyday people are on parade for all to see. One could say that a new culture of erotic exposure and display is on the ascendance, fueled by the impulse to reveal the self, and streamlined by DIY media technologies. In many ways this culture would seem to be less a representational than a presentational one, where we are compelled to solicit the attention of others, act for unseen eyes, and develop new forms of connective intensity — as if this were somehow the very condition of our continued existence, the marker of our worth. Within this new culture of self-exposure, one could say that the dream of panoptic power has been achieved, or that it has reversed course. Does the drive to willingly display the self constitute a surrender to the controlling gaze, or simply a shift in the dynamic of the game? For within these presentational environments, performance and role-playing reign supreme, and new forms of subjectivity and identity emerge.
Continue reading…

Jordan Crandall - SHOWING


Jordan Crandall - Showing


“Showing” is an exhibition by Jordan Crandall that takes its form as a series of events at TELIC Arts Exchange between September 8 and October 20. These events include presentations, screenings, and performances, along with discursive interventions in various formats. TELIC operates as a stage throughout the show, with every event being recorded and then distributed as a catalog series of DVD’s.

Presentations by: Julie Albright (on self-transformation, makeover, and the management of attraction); Scott Bukatman (on attraction, spectacle, and the cult of the amateur); Gary Dauphin and Josephina Ayerza (on the “pose” as a marker of identity and social standing); Mimi Nguyen (on the circuits between star and fan); Susanna Paasonen (on sexuality, pornography, and affect); John Paul Ricco (on narcissism and the space of exposure), and Theresa Senft (on webcamming, micro-celebrity, and performance in everyday life). “Watch Me Get Watched” program organized by Glenn Phillips and Catherine Taft. “Showing for All” program organized by Dylan Wilcox.

Note: schedule subject to change. For an up-to-date, detailed schedule of screenings, presentations, and performances see

Sat 9.8
Screening of Jordan Crandall, Homefront (2006)
Taping and screening of private/public “confessional” interviews
Erotic drawing session by Miguel Angel Reyes

Fri 9.14
“To Be is to Be Perceived” screening program, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973); Effi Briest (1974); Fox and His Friends (1974); and Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (1975)

Sat 9.15
Screenings of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Querelle (1982) and Claire Denis, Beau Travail (1999)
Photo session by Jeff Compasso

Fri 9.21
“Identity Masquerades” screening program, including clips from Busby Berkeley, Gold Diggers of 1933 and 42nd St (1933); Kenneth Anger, Puce Moment (1949) and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965); Alan Calpe, Perfidia (2006); Jack Smith, Flaming Creatures (1963); and Paul Morrissey/Andy Warhol, Flesh (1968)

Sat 9.22
Acting classes following the Ivana Chubbuck “Act to Win” method
Queer performance screenings selected by Robert Summers
“Sex is so Abstract” screening program organized by John Paul Ricco
JJ Chinois music video and selections by Mimi Nguyen
Presentation by Mimi Nguyen
Performance and presentation by John Paul Ricco

Fri 9.28
“Public Showing” screening program curated by Dylan Wilcox, including Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970); All That Jazz (1979); Basic Instinct (1992); American Psycho (2000)

Sat 9.29
Self-portraiture workshop
“Watch Me Get Watched” video art screening program, curated by Glenn Phillips and Catherine Taft, with live introduction
Screening of Hotghettomess and videos selected by Gary Dauphin
Presentation by Gary Dauphin

Fri 10.5
12-5 pm
“On the History of Attractions” screening program, beginning with Abel Gance, La Roue (Wheels of Fate) (1922), through Arthur Penn, Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Fashion shows from Fashion TV and Dior Homme; screening of Beyonce ft. Shakira video “Beautiful Liar” and Black Eyed Peas, “My Humps”

Sat 10.6
DIY nutritional supplements demo
“On the Shift from the Cult of the Expert to the Cult Of The Amateur” screening program, selected by Scott Bukatman, including clips from French Chef and Young People’s Concerts with Lenny Bernstein; Simple Life and Top Chef. Also: Nobody’s Watching (youtube); Albert Brooks, Real Life
Presentation by Scott Bukatman

Fri 10.12
Webcam workshop; DIY porn; experiments in social nudity
Presentation of random youtube videos with keyword “show off”

Sat 10.13
“Lifecasting” channels (;
Video of performance by Felipe Zuniga
Presentation by Susanna Paasonen

Fri 10.19
Beauty and fitness intensive: dietary guidance according to Dr. Jeannette Graf in Stop Aging, Start Living; self-help guidance according to Tony Robbins; makeover session; exercise session

Sat 10.20
Cosmetic surgery demonstration with videos by Brooke Kellaway
“Lifecoaching” sessions, supplemented with “Lifelisting” sessions (
Performance by Nina Waisman
Presentation by Julie Albright
Presentation by Terri Senft

This exhibition is made possible in part with the support of The Peter Norton
Family Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

online catalog:


artist's statement



  *  schedule subject to change


  • Susanna Paasonen
    on sexuality, pornography, and affect
  • Theresa Senft
    on webcamming, micro-celebrity, and performance in everyday life
  • Scott Bukatman
    on attraction, spectacle, and the cult of the amateur
  • Julie Albright
    on self-transformation, makeover, and the management of attraction
  • John Paul Ricco
    on narcissism and the space of exposure
  • Gary Dauphin
    on the "pose" as a marker of identity and social standing
  • Mimi Nguyen
    the circuits between star and fan
  • Glenn Phillips and Catherine Taft
    "Watch Me Get Watched"
  • Dylan Wilcox
    "Public Showing"