I got thinking also about Nan Goldin and her photographic recording and display of her personal life, which obviously includes the intimate lives of her friends and lovers. According to Ben Burbridge her work has been read in a remarkably constant way, in accordance mostly with the artist’s explication of her work as a fuck-you to stuffy suburban values that creates a space for the countercultural, bohemian lifestyles left out of mainstream media representations.
But the mainstream/ counterculture binary doesn’t really exist in the same way anymore, or if it does it’s used to peddle ‘alternative’ as a lifestyle category, this argument doesn’t really hold; and web 2.0 actually demands and runs on the exhibitionism and display of intimacy that her work seemed so groundbreaking for, so it’s hardly subversive to share-all. Burbrigde goes so far as to argue that her strategies of self-display are partly implicated in what she sees as the shallowness and artificiality of today’s world, which, as she puts it, has been ‘completely destroyed by computers, the sensationalism of emotion in talk shows’.
Nan and Brian in bed, 1983, part of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
And what do the blokes she’s shagging think? One of them said he tries/ tried not think about it being out there in the world- which was maybe possible in the 80s, but less so now, when images can be shared in an instant, and everyone would potentially know who the fucker who gave her a black eye was cos he’d be tagged up in previous couple pics, and, hopefully, would be getting some shit for it (although judging from the amount of abusive tossers who walk free on Facebook every day parading their new squeezes…maybe not).
Ah, Facebook. Last time I got together with anyone was a year before it took off, and multiple messaging across text, email, Skype, not to mention FB stalking of them and all their (visible/ known) exes just wasn’t an option. And hey, what’s the difference between presenting your boy in artwork and presenting them, trophy-like, in a couple profile pic? Isn’t that also an attempt, though maybe unconscious, to consolidate one’s personal value- like, get me, I’ve got a man!- in a vaguely similar way to ‘using’ them in your artwork, i.e. ‘using’ them as some form of value generation? Even if it’s not, you can be sure that Facebook, and doubtless someone else, is generating value from your <3 <3 interactions. Why else did they introduce that nauseating ‘couple page’ (presumably since dropped)?
Anyway I don’t know where this going, necessarily (I mean this post, not the romance), I think I just wanted to rant a bit because apart from anything else, I really do have a pressing question of how, if at all, to incorporate some of these heady mad feels into the commission I’m working on. I have some ideas- it’s somehow going to embrace the idea of huge amounts of emotional/ intimate labour involved- jeez all those emails, when you are both writing types, I can’t stop writing to him about every thing that pops into my head and have had to go airplane mode when on a late night one to stop myself pestering him with 4am text messages- and the fears of non-reciprocation, as I’m emailing all these random people as part of the piece, and mostly not hearing anything back. And also the plentitude of sexual desire and the plenitude and overflow of images online (translation: more erotic daydreams). But more on that later.
(whole post is <3<3 <3 in a public place)