In celebration of Extra Extra’s five-year anniversary, I invited friends, artists and previous contributors to share bites of everyday exuberance, luscious anecdotes, and sensual antidotes of time passing by and under the covers of our books. The idea of collecting the sensual responses from former Extra Extra contributors to the questions on sensitivity, the sensuality of images, the exuberance of the everyday and tickling encounters, first came from the editors. With such an invitation, I started my quest into the depths explored in each issue, seeking inspirations from every entry and nuance marked in the printed matter. I feel quite privileged to be able to access and delve into the editorial mastermind. I have been granted access to the subliminal cord of Extra Extra, where I could pull and push, select and leave behind. In the dust of days where I was only reading the magazine and thinking about who to invite and what to ask, it did dawn on me: the diagrammatic of sensuality. Imagination and building desires lie on the same meridian as pleasing thoughts and appealing dreams, as attraction and yearning, when defining moments of sensuous encounter and experience of being moved by the encounter. Sexuality is an amalgamation of wonder, curiosity, aspiration and attraction, as well as activation of bodily fluids and neural tension. It involves ephemeral and physical experiences, which do not have as a prerequisite the presence of another subject, as images, objects, ideas can sustain the fuel for the stimuli. Investigating sensuality is twofold: curiosity about the others’ desires that one projects mirrors onto her/himself. That is to say, through the other, one questions the self and one’s own set of motivations, modes of operandi, sensuous experiences and approaches to sensuality, let alone the capacity for emotional openness and the courage to stand out curiously.
When I started painting, I was never so interested in the paint itself. The medium wasn’t as important as the things I wanted to say. This slowly changed in my twenty years of practice. I became fascinated by colour and the way the paint lays itself onto the surface and behaves in a certain way, how you can look at a painting not only from up front but also from other angles. Like listening to Donovan sing about colours, they all inhabit a personal meaning and special personality for me now. Certain greens stand for something while another green could be saying just the opposite in my world. For some years, I have also enjoyed making some of my own oil colours. When the painting commands it. Like a special vine black or something. Right now, I am busy with putting a roll of lead into a terracotta pot and putting it in a pile of horseshit. The lead will start to bleed and produce white powder. This will make it possible for me to create lead white oil paint, a rare colour not sold in Europe any more for its toxicity but it is a white like no other.
I started up the Babydetektivclub in 2012 to allow a childlike curiosity combined with deep investigation to be a bigger part of my life and practice. I think we all are detectives, maybe the artist more than any other. It’s important that we all try and see the world with the fresh look of a newborn from time to time. It gives us a chance to view things differently. I like to look at people, to look at them closely and it seems that I am fascinated by things people rather like to hide. This could be the varicose veins of my old neighbour which flow like blue rivers on his white legs or things like skin falling off at weird places, hair growing on parts where it’s not wanted, the raddled cuff of a sweater… Sometimes these little things seem to tell a whole story. When I am looking for models for my paintings it’s mostly one of these weird beautiful things or details on them or in their character that draw my attention and make me want to paint them.
My earliest memory of an intellectual stimulation was… Posters! (This is a kind of stupid story, but it somehow tells a bit of what I believe to be still doing in one way or another.) In my hometown in Germany there’s a yearly midsummer party with a huge fire. I think I was about seven years old and it bugged me that at the party all men would always piss all over the place. So, I made these huge posters with drawings of pissing men in nature, crossed out. It said you have to have a ‘Pippi-Ausweis’, a pissing licence which you can buy from us for 1 Pfennig. So as the evening goes, all these children and I went from one peeing men to another asking them for one Pfenning, handing them a piece of paper, the ‘Licence’ and directing them to a certain area that we thought was suitable. This took the whole night through. We collected 24.29 German Marks and gave it to the priest during Sunday church to send to poor children.
I distinctly remember the thrill of finding out when I was around nineteen years old, probably in one of those ‘Weird and Unusual Words’ books that I collected, that there was a word which describes the pleasure of nibbling on a woman’s earlobe – gynotikolobomassophile.
I’m drawn these days to objects that seem lonely and in pain. For instance, in the shower, if I use the shampoo and then close the flip lid too soon and the side of the bottle gets sucked in and deformed, I feel the bottle must hurt like a hunched-over man or someone who’s been scuba diving and didn’t depressurize, so I’ll have to let some air back into the bottle so that it can return to its proud, upright state. I also tend to have an eye for whole pieces of food that are left out on the street, for instance a whole potato which I once saw in Lithuania, or a pickle in the middle of the sidewalk in the rain. Bits of food smushed on the street disgust me, but there is something so touching about a whole potato abandoned on the sidewalk, leaning against a storefront. Seeming so shy and fragile and small. Like it couldn’t possibly survive. Or this pickle here, by nature a wet thing, but here on the wet sidewalk it’s so sad to me, like a fish on the deck of a ship. I think if I were to see a baby bok choy in Midtown Manhattan in the middle of the road, I’d run out into the street screaming at the cars and rescue it.
When I was around eleven I had an educational toy which I still think was ingenious in concept and design, called the 150 in 1 kit. It was a game board sized, wooden tray in which there were a bunch of electrical components, transistors, capacitors, knobs, LEDs, speakers, etcetera, installed on the surface with little metal spring connectors. There was a manual of schematic drawings and by connecting wires from the numbered springs, you could make 150 different projects – a burglar alarm, an AM transmitter, basic oscillators, a night light. So, my friend Eric was sleeping over one night, and I wanted to hear my parents having sex, so I used the kit to build a listening device and put a microphone in their room behind their bed, stretching the wires from their bedroom to mine, hiding them under the carpet. I didn’t hear them have sex that night, but for a while after, little metal springs had a special frisson to me.
Like most people of my gender, I think we overemphasis the visual aspect of eroticism, whereas there are of course also other senses one can use. Like sound. A good-looking girl with a weird voice can be a real turn-off. There are names that do tickle a curiosity. In the article ‘The Phonetics of Lust: From Lustful Plosives to Sensual Labials’ which is a rather playful Barthesian associative text I wrote earlier for Extra Extra, I analyse the way porn stars chose pseudonyms that arouse – though that is maybe an understatement – the imagination. It is not a coïncidence that a lot of porn involves names with bilabial plosives or dentals like a B, P or D. Think of Pamela, Dolly Buster or of course Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights – and the epiphanie he has when coming up with his nom de plume. Sounds that almost have an onomatopoeic expression of lust anticipate what to expect. Whereas labials are much softer, more suited for soft-porn. Think of the brilliant opening lines of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita: ‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.’ When I was fifteen, I was a bit of a lowlife, a metalhead, hanging out with other lowlifes, drinking and stealing. During a history course, we analysed various Greek columns (Ionic, Doric,…) and the floor plan of Catholic churches. I was really impressed by it and its symbolism.
In the last years, I have been researching ‘hell’ and its representation in different religions and cultures. I am particularly interested in the ways in which sexual sins are depicted, often rendering sexual acts deviant and oppressive. During a recent trip to Thailand, I visited the Buddhist Hell Temple nearby Chiang Mai, an over – the – top, amusement park-like temple where sins are performed in utmost gore and detail.
Richard John Jones
The last sensuous venue I visited unexpectedly – perhaps not so sensuous, but definitely sexual – is the Aire De Repos De Clairlieu, a picnic spot on the side of the autoroute, outside the French city of Nancy. It is an extensive cruising area that covers both sides of the road and is connected by a bridge that runs underneath the autoroute. The forest is beautiful and the picnic benches have been dismantled and repurposed as sex furniture. The ground is littered with condom packets; they shine like little foil jewels in the rich mulch. I made an artwork at the location and a second art piece referring to it, entitled Discretion, 2017. Not so much discovered, as I have always appreciated a nice ass, but recently I have developed an insatiable desire for Instagram photos of men’s butts. There are rules to the game; the butt must belong to the owner of the Instagram account, a mixture of different kinds of photos on the account are preferred, it must show personality and visual flare, and unusual or unexpected butts are a bonus. I have developed a little network where we collect and share these photos. There is something fascinating about the way certain guys have internalized and embody the visual language of a callipygous post-Kim K world of big, round buttocks. I particularly appreciate photos that flirt with this highly developed Instagram selfie repertoire to present a deliciously contemporary expression of male femininity.
Where you Stand Still! Hide, Where I Can See the Clouds with Strings!,
‘Marko Ivic’ in the studio shooting within objects and paintings
for ‘An Unfinished Copernican Revolution’, 2018.
The picture is a part of my preparations for my upcoming exhibitions, among the pieces for ‘A Map of Sky’, a setting of paintings, structures and painted objects for ‘An Unfinished Copernican Revolution’ which looks at a de-centralized earth, a de-centralized mankind within the animal kingdom and a de-centralized subject position of every single person in relation to the gravity of the seduction of the other. Using structures to hold bits and pieces of a total, dismantled and opened up, Marko was asked to be there, after long conversations on how both of us have been through different paths but with help through professional relationships in our past, lift the obstacles for witnessing the energetic flow of seduction, aesthetically and ethically, which is at the same time traumatizing for many to bear with, which I wish by making others witness of, they would be seduced to want to be a party in this structural opened up laboratory of seductions and the charges of fragility and eroticism within a constellation and composition that revolves around the centrality of the others’ seduction gravity.
Erik van Lieshout
My curiosity is driven by an insistence of life in the face of stagnation to come close to truth, be it in the form of a wound or hot lava streams of you-know-what. My first stimulation was the audio files on records as a kid, but later the first gong happened when I watched my first colour film on TV, which was Rosemary’s Baby. Imagine the fascination, horror, trauma and intense need to cobble it all and make sense of what was and what was to come. And why former US Secretary of State James Baker would make it to my dreams as a kid, I must blame my parents for it.
It is the open question that draws my curiosity. Its hope that the mystery will reveal itself to you. The mystery of love, of desire. That it will give an answer not thought of before. It’s the open question that gives life to desire.
A sensuous venue out of the mundane that first comes to mind is a gasoline station. Especially the ones that are out of use. There are many of them in different places, but hard to find. On my way from Essaouira to Tanger, I stopped at a gasoline station nearby Casablanca; it had been closed down for decades. There was an eerie atmosphere, a post-nuclear situation. A feeling of Tarkovsky’s Stalker. I felt both hopeless and drawn by that station. I felt outside time and space. To me desire and fear are connected. There is fear of transgression and that fear creates a tension called desire. I remember once dating an older woman – we went to the cinema, a French movie about a cellist. This woman was a maths teacher. She took care of herself, she was married. But there was no life in the marriage. She was free. I don’t know if I enjoyed the movie. I just wanted to feel attracted to her. But the chemistry didn’t happen. After the movie, we drank and then drove back to our homes. We said goodbye to each other. She opened her mouth, she wanted to be kissed. I didn’t answer the invitation. I went home and neither felt bad nor good. I felt nothing. But shortly afterwards I started longing for that kiss. I missed the kiss. I felt bad I didn’t kiss her. And not kissing her in a way made me long terribly for her. That not-given kiss haunted me for a long time.