Up-stares, down-stares


This one began as a visual/linguistic pun on the old Brit TV show about upper-class households, “Upstairs, Downstairs” and the porn genres, “up skirt” and Down blouse”. but the stares became gazes and i added the “Nude with dog” and the statuette of the rearing stallion to add art to the mix of pop-culture history and psychology/philosophy.

Getting the perspective and lighting right on this one took a long time, a lot of trial and error as I don’t draw from “life”. All these scenes and the people in them are from memory and fantasy. The stallion is sorta like one of the glass bookends my parents had, I still do –somewhere. I had the wing chair once but ex-wife 1 took it with her. The nude is kinda like one I painted in ’72, that still hangs in my bedroom. These things are real, all the rest is made-up.

The drawing became an essay on the Sartrean, Lacanian and even Mulveyish “Gaze.” I’ve read enough about all that to know that I don’t know enough to really understand, understand? So I draw. There’s the old “Wine , Women and Song” thing in there, too or if you prefer (as I do) “Art, Arbeit and Amour.” Just look at everybody looking at somebody else’s body; some body’s part. Art of some part, or tool of ones trade as a part.

To Mulvey: The Women are gazing too. But as long as most screen writers are horny old men you’ll see a lot of movies with old men being jumped by hot young women. Artists are mostly horny old men, too, which explains–not justifies– why the huge majority of “Nudes” in art places are hot young women.

To Lacan: The others desire for us which we desire doesn’t seem to have to be for the whole self. It can be for just a part of that person, a sex organ or even a wallet. The gaze is a brief statement of that desire. It’s a connection without a possession.  We barter, trade for a time, our parts to the other for use of her parts. We upgrade connection to possession, but only for a while.

The “whole self” is just a part too, that can stand apart from the rest. I am in, but distinct from, a body as well as a culture. I am not identical with either. But I am their prisoner; I resent them and obey them as little as possible. I can image freedom , but not escape.

To Sartre: When we are gazed upon we don’t lose our whole freedom, we just lose the temporary use of the part that this other is gazing at–connection to possession–she will return it when she’s done, hopefully no worse for the wear.

After a session of connections and possessions you can feel useful or used. You only feels used (dirty) when the gaze(s) is(are) not voluntary and reciprocal. That’s the difference between love and work, desire and need and at another level, language (symbol) games and art.