My Fecund Father 

written for Something Other, On Circularity

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Pleasure Lab

Welcome to the pleasure lab. Within this space, I explore weirdness, extremity and a sense of againstness as elements of a performance of decadence.

This is a guided tour.

I will take you through works by Austrian avant-garde artist Renate Bertlmann, who makes ambivalent performances, installations and objects that discuss sex, motherhood, risk and pleasure. Amongst her well-known material is the use of pacifiers on the fingers, on the face or head, and also the use of knives that protrude out of fingers, pacifiers or breasts.

Bertlmann often uses these objects alongside similarly shaped objects, such as condoms that are ambivalent in their use and function. This convergence of sex, references to motherhood, pain and pleasure, and the focus on how the body feels, reacts or takes responsibility, seems to make a proposition: that it is possible to demand everything. To demand from ourselves and others that both our utterances and silences are heard, that we are allowed to enjoy both taking care and taking risks, that our unrelenting desires can be exhausting, but also gratifying in this balancing act.

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