Lacan's Later Teaching
The Proofs of
The State of
Via S. Zaccaria 4
Cathy Lebowitz interviews Josefina Ayerza
CATHY: You say that Condo's portraits break the body in pieces, yet there doesn't seem to be the sexual fixation of what this usually means. How is the sexuality missing? Do you mean that they don't have a sensuality?
JOSEFINA: Oh yes, I think Condo's portraits break the body in pieces. Not that the body pieces separate from the body, just that they get highlighted. Like with the woman that has an eye bigger, with a different shape, with another color, and that looks in another direction than the blue one this one is brown. I say that there is sensuality in Condo's paintings, but curiously enough there isn't sexuality. I say curiously enough because the sexual will certainly isolate body parts. You do not sexually enjoy your lover's whole body. Only the part body.
Condo removes the sexual from his images when he makes people's faces look like animals even if these are not regular animals. Maybe he wants to suggest people behave like animals... Still you don't go into getting aroused with animals, right?
C: Well, arousal by animals is a perversion, isn't it? But yes, I see what you mean about those cute cartoon faces... how could they solicit sexual arousal. But the avoidance of the arousal, the replacement of arousal by this other thing must mean something too?
J: After Freud arousal by animals is a perversion, yes. As to your question something a bit comical came to mind. And this is Slavoj Zizek's declaration over masturbating in front of somebody else looking. He says this is an act of utmost intimacy since this someone will witness your funny gestures, your funny faces... I myself never thought of it this way. On the contrary, I always imagined the person looking would get aroused because of seeing this, and so the gestures and the faces become erotic. Let's say Condo removes the libido. Still there is the scenario, still you move in this scenario, but you are not moved by these people nor the things. Would the people and the things turn monstrous?
C: Is there a theory based on the monstrous? But the creatures he makes seem calculated to be cute, non threatening. Friendly monsters maybe.
J: Jacques Lacan opposes the inner object (actually represented by excrement) to the subject's direct equivalent in the reverse that is external modes of domination. The externalized object befits the notion of puppetry as a marionette picks up a life of its own, takes over the subject who commands it. Caught in an inexplicable compulsion the doll gesticulates, has a voice... whose? Overly imposed, it acts as a maniac cartoon, like a character. The puppet takes possession of the heroine. Giving way to her innermost self it is experienced by the subject as being colonized by some parasitic foreign intruder, which takes possession of her against her will... Somebody else pulling the threads, she is haunted by a vulgar melody no matter how she fights it, she ultimately succumbs to it, to its mimetic power, and starts to move along its goosey rhythm.
And about the friendly monsters you mention, the monstrous is like the uncanny. There is the familiar cute enough it is what you relate to. And there is the sinister doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive. Or conversely, whether a lifeless object might not be in fact animate. What, if anything, do monsters have in common, besides the fact that they are not real? They may be human, but they are not real.
Art: George Condo , Incomprehensible Dream, oil on canvas, 2002
Portrait of a Woman, oil on canvas, 2002
courtesy of Luhring-Augustine Gallery, NYC
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