There was a big Hokusai show in Berlin at (I think) Martin Gropius Bau a couple of years ago, I went to see with Dasniya. No Shunga. No pervy octopus tentacle porn. Not even a mention. But in Marbella, in the small but very nice MGEC Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, in the very unexpected exhibition, Estampa japonesa — Imágenes del mundo flotante, amidst three rooms of Japanese Edo and Meiji era prints, a whole wall of Shunga. And this one, from Katsukawa Shunchō’s: series, Imayō irokumi no ito. One of my absolute favourites, just hanging on the wall in a small museum in Marbella.
On the afternoon of my hectic 36-hour round-trip to Marbella / Puerto Banùs, I had a couple of free hours in the afternoon. I could have slept, but I figured I’d be all perky at 10pm and needed some distractions. Museums, then. Yes, Marbella has one: MGEC Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, in the old town, down an alley on the north-east corner of the big church (very tourist; much eye-watering Catholic art), in a former late-Renaissance hospital.
I hadn’t looked at the museum’s website properly, mainly because I was rather thrilled to have found any suitable distraction for the afternoon, and had no idea what to expect. Straight into Picasso and Miró. Straight out and up the stairs into 3 rooms of Japanese Edo and Meiji era prints. I really wasn’t expecting that. And I really, really wasn’t expecting to see Shunga in an exhibition like this. Saving on of those for its own post. That good. So here, without much elaboration, pretty much every piece in Estampa japonesa — Imágenes del mundo flotante. As usual, besides straightening, cropping, and a bit of colour-balancing, this is pretty much what my now rather old Panasonic LX7 saw. The lighting was awkward (the usual direct light glare on glass type nonsense), I am very out of practice in visiting museums and photographing art, they’re all on the underexposed side and tinted a bit blue … excuses. Fuck it. I’m not much for omens, but stumbling into this after the whole reason I was in Marbella in the first place was Pretty Bloody Significant, if you know what I mean.
Last night with the wonderful Katrin, I was introduced to an artist I’d not thought upon for years, and likely also not seen his work for that long even in passing. Memories of fetish porn dressing the pages of more conventional softcore magazines, or perhaps battered issues of other old magazines, to stumble across a chrome flesh sex robot on one page, his style immediately unmistakeable.
Katrin, amidst her hundreds of vinyl LPs which I was photographing for ideas for her website produced, from a small padded and brown package, a thick block of matte paper, the edges dressed in a thin banding of spectrum colour, each page an airbrushed erotic dream, laughing naked women, sex, cyborgs, and then of course, utterly beguiling shibari. Too real to be real, or perhaps what porn could be if the attention to photography was that of fashion or art.
And one page brought a smile to me. Well, every page did in various ways, but to see Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife reimagined by Hajime Sorayama was … quite delectable.
Oh if only I could make art as good as this. One of those “uuhhh… why didn’t I think of that?” moments, I mean as in what I was doing in hell, pestilence, thinking ideas for abjection… oh so obvious, Susan Norrie’s Havoc… mmm… perfect.
Dennis Cooper has been something of a personal influence these last couple of years, well since I discovered Sunn0))) and so on, or maybe to say his blog is, because despite wanting to, I’ve never read or seen his work or collaborations. He blogged on an artist called On, who makes Guro paper art, almost puppetry, almost performance, almost photography, deeply, wonderfully dark horror, enough to make me laugh with joy, so cruel and clever.
South-East Asia’s biggest sex market that is, though I always expected Thailand, or Korea or Japan who have the first three places when it comes to matters of size, located off 战前路 Zhanqian Lu, near the main station, and like all main stations in all cities I’ve been, the part of town I have a mental border around labeled ‘dodgy’, though that is not the word that springs to mind to describe a meter high fat, erect schlong radiating a smutty deep orange glow.
Really I didn’t know whether to choose the walls of full-leather masks, ball-gags, restraints, harnesses and designer ropes, or the shelves of 20cm high manga-porno models, or the endless fields of dildos, vibrators, plugs, jelly-vibrating-crustations, things to insert into other things… So I settled on Orgaster! super vibration!, something about skinship scandal g-spot pornography? Is this turning into one of those sex-spam blogs? The other option was a poster of 鄧小平 Deng Xiaoping.
Two films which are doing the rounds at the moment, Gozu by Ichi The Killer director Takashi Miike, and Casshern by first-time director Kazuaki Kiriya, have everything I love in movies, psychopathic gangsters, vertigo-inducing special effects, and that staple of John Waters, David Lynch, and every second film out of Hong Kong, cross-dressing.
“Gozu” begins like a typical yakuza film, with stock characters that include a big boss and his sleazy underlings. However, the mood quickly turns horrific when senior gangster Ozaki is revealed to be psychotic. Declaring that a chihuahua is in actuality a “yakuza attack dog,” he smashes the tiny pet into a restaurant window before stomping on it for good measure. When Ozaki’s underling, Minami, is charged with killing his demented boss and then loses the corpse, the film takes a surreal, David Lynch-esque turn. Cross-dressing waiters, dysfunctional siblings who operate a motel and the titular horror are introduced, as is a beautiful woman who claims to be the supposedly dead man. The lower-level gangster is torn between his loyalty to the gang, his relationship with the boss and his attraction to Ozaki’s curvy new body. The scenario is mind-boggling, and Miike handles it with a dry and sick sense of humor.
Casshern is part of the unique Japanese manga tradition of future dystopia of classics like Akira, the uneven but occasionally sublime Evangelion, and possilby my all-time favourite movie, Bladerunner. Just watch the trailer.