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Profanations by Giorgio Agamben


by Giorgio Agamben

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Verb1.adulterate - corrupt, debase, or make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance; often by replacing valuable ingredients with inferior ones; "adulterate liquor".

Synonyms: adulterate, debase, doctor, load.

These verbs mean to make impure or inferior by adding foreign substances to something: adulterate coffee with ground acorns; silver debased with copper; doctored the wine with water; rag paper loaded with wood fiber.

A photo from some time ago that I wish I would have kept, where my wife's face was simply angelic, she sitting backwards in a ladder-back chair, nude, her legs spread wide and her genitals on display. Of course, my wife and I don't do porn so we rejected the photograph, but in retrospect, my wife was so damn beautiful in that photograph, totally unaware she was showing too much of her genitalia, and because of it, innocent to the consequences possible, even, for example, if her aging dad, who was still living at the time, ever found out. Because of my wife's innocence the problem now existed where our art did not interface with pornography in the sense described in the opening quote because the model had no feelings of conflict and contradiction during the shoot, but would have had afterward when she saw the results and thought of her father finding out if she went ahead and approved of the picture's publication. I, as photographer, was guilty from the beginning simply because I wanted the shot completed as composed in order to see what we could see, but never did I have any idea of publishing it and I went radically extreme like a dummy so far as removing it from my files.

Nathalie Boët (also known as Chloë des Lysses), has some fantastic photos taken of her where she is famously indifferent to being fucked hard and in many settings and positions. That is the extent of my pornography "likes" pertaining to photography. And truth be known this is the type of photo I would love to capture my wife in. The indifference. But that will never happen. She is not even close to the type of person who could make art like that. I am not sure she is even the type of person who would allow herself to be fucked like that, the way the pros do it and with all that heavy machinery involved. (We are both recovering puritans.) But I have never thought I had to resort to bondage or tricks to get a powerful image. Practice and a good eye helps.

One of my favorite series of what I consider "pornographic art photographs" ever done has been tainted for me with the knowledge that Boët's husband at the time was simply using her and she has gained no profit from her work since they have divorced. What I have learned from the web, and of course some of this may not be true, is Dahmane, Boët's ex-husband, has a long reputation of degrading all his models on the set, not paying them, publishing the photographs in magazines without the models being informed of this, or getting their cut, and on. Dahmane has published at least two books of photos using Chloë as his model as well as selling expensive prints of their work together. Chloë, I understand, was pretty much broke after she split with him and has yet to receive any payment for her nude and pornographic efforts in front of his camera. I believe she even was ordered by a French judge to pay back taxes owed on profits from her work, profits that she never even received. Seems the judge considered her a whore. The famous philosopher Giorgio Agamben writes about her unique work in front of the camera in his very interesting book titled, Profanations.
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  MSarki | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 189095182X, Hardcover)

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has always been an original reader of texts, understanding their many rich and multiple historical, aesthetic, and political meanings and effects. In Profanations, Agamben has assembled for the first time some of his most pivotal essays on photography, the novel, and film. A meditation on memory and oblivion, on what is lost and what remains, Profanations proves yet again that Agamben is one of the most provocative writers of our time. In ten essays, Agamben ponders a series of literary and philosophical problems: the relation among genius, ego, and theories of subjectivity; the problem of messianic time as explicated in both images and lived experience; parody as a literary paradigm; and the potential of magic to provide an ethical canon. The range of topics and themes addressed here attest to the creativity of Agamben's singular mode of thought and his persistent concern with the act of witnessing, sometimes futile, sometimes earth-shattering: the talking cricket in Pinocchio; "helpers" in Kafka's novels; pictorial representations of the Last Judgment, of anonymous female faces, and of "Rosebud," the infamous object of obsession in Citizen Kane. "In Praise of Profanity," the central essay of this small but dense book, confronts the question of profanity as the crucial political task of the moment. An act of resistance to every form of separation, the concept of profanation reorients perceptions of how power, consumption, and use interweave to produce an urgent political modality and desire: to profane the unprofanable. Agamben not only provides a new and potent theoretical model but describes it with a writerly style that itself forges inescapable links among literature, politics, and philosophy.Giorgio Agamben is Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Venice. His many publications include Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (Zone Books), The Coming Community, and State of Exception.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:55 -0400)

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