THE DAILY PIC (#1364): One last Pic from Mass MoCA, in North Adams, MA.
Today it’s a still from a series of videos by Clayton Cubitt called “Hysterical Literature", featured in the museum’s group show about books and bookishness. There’s a simple premise behind the 10 videos, which – for reasons about to become clear – range from four to 12 minutes long: In each one, a well-groomed woman is shown sitting at a table while reading aloud from a notable tome, ranging from “Leaves of Grass" to “American Psycho". What we can’t see and don’t at first realize is that hidden from view under the table is some kind of amorous partner who is busy “pleasuring" the woman as she reads. (Thankfully, we don’t get more clinical details than that.)
We watch as the woman’s attention and voice begin to waver and eventually give way to impressive, and classic, groans and shrieks and giggles of pleasure. (Click on my image to watch a clip.)
The famous restaurant scene from “When Harry Met Sally" comes to mind, but only fleetingly, as we imagine that the women are having as much fun as it seems.
We also can’t avoid the thought that, for all its claims to greatness, even the greatest literature – and by extension, all of art – pales, in the moment, compared to a good old orgasm. “In the moment" of course being the operative word: For most of us, it’s harder to tell apart or remember each of the climaxes we’ve had than each book we’ve read or video we’ve seen. I dare say that even Cubitt’s sitters will take more pride in having been the subject of his art than of their partners’ attentions.
All representational art has an element of voyeurism in it; given the millions of hits that Cubitt’s videos have garnered on YouTube, it looks as though Hysterical Literature has concentrated that aspect of human creativity.
I’ve watched all 10 videos in this series. Big fan of literature and orgasms.