Kim Doan Quoc

Walter Kendrick talked about our visual imaginarium in terms of “a post-pornographic era”? How do you perceive it? How does it manifest in your art?

I didn’t know about W. Kendrick’s essay. From what I read about it, I found the relationship with my art in the starting point Kendrick chose for this era: the Meese Report, or the corrupted research about pornographic media to facilitate the censorship of it. I think I started to work more specifically on the male body representation when i realised how the view was different considering female nudes and male nudes. I felt censorship is way stronger on male nudes than female nudes, finding my pictures behind curtains in collective school exhibitions when there was no need for it considering representations of the female body. As if the representation of male body was more aggressive than the female body. Our eyes are way more used to female nudity, considering the everyday images we can see in advertising and cinema. In my opinion, this double standard of censorship  is one of the consequences of the male gaze Judith Butler explains in Gender Trouble.

So i would consider my work about male nudity as an active attempt to go further in a “post-pornographic era” in the sense that i want to be part of the development of the female gaze about intimacy and sexuallity. The more we will express our views and images the less obscene and transgressive this gaze will be. I have to say i find a lot of pleasure taking part of this. To me, one of the worst mistakes of the right winged feminist activists who participated in the Meese report was to consider pornography only as an aggression. To outlaw pornographic images prevent the development of new codes for it. In my opinion, a post-pornographic era is shaped by artists as Erika Lust, Virginie Despentes, Mia Engberg and Annie Sprinkle. But that’s already what pro-sex feminists were talking about in the 80’s and the 90’s in the US and in Europe.

“Boys”, Kim Doan Quoc

“Nouvel Nymphe”, Kim Doan Quoc

Which was your starting point/inspiration from the visual point of view? And from the literary point of view?

I found interest in the male body from a very young age when I think about it. I was always taking pictures of my lovers and friends, naked or not. Of course in that sense I would relate a lot to Nan Goldin and Larry Clark. But my work and thinking about male representation really started to take shape when i met Paul-Armand Gette.

Paul-Armand Gette is a great inspiration in his way of linking a scientific approach of nature and a deep knowledge of art history. He uses geology and botanic methodology to approach female nudity and thinks specifically about the freedom of the model. His eye on female nudity is from what his model wants to show to him, he puts a specific importance on not tell what to do to the model in order for her to consider more what she represents. The model also takes part in the final choice of the images he will show, as a collaborator instead of being a passive inspiration. His work about mythology and nymph as “Les menstrues de la déesse”, in its way of dealing with menstruation, sacred bodies and nature is one of the strongest influences in my work. His point of view on femininity definitely started my reflexion about the male body as something that should be as sacred and ritualised too, to allow at the same time the contemplation of it and, maybe later, the blasphemy.

From the literary point of view I fancy William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. The Naked Lunch is a great inspiration in the mix of fiction and reality of intimacy and fantasies. Reading these writers encourage my will to experience with no fear of different kinds of relationships and intimacies I could build and to think about them as a raw material for artistic expression. This attachment may have drove myself to link writing and photography in my work. For example, the text that goes with the pictures in Touch you overseas, was built using the cut-up writing process of Burroughs in a skype conversation. Most of the time I write or use fragments of texts that I put together after the narration is already put in place by the pictures. The way I wrote the text for Considering the boys is based on the same process using fragments I wrote.

 

How do you imagine the illustrations of an hypothetical atlas entitled “The new anthropology of Eros”?

I wish for the new Eros not to be ruled obscene anymore, to become a part of our way of life without having to stay hidden because of unjustified guilt or used for objectification and merchandising. Not for it to become a permanent show either, but i’d love to see Eros being discussed as we discuss health or work. I want to read discussions about how to get the best out of our sexuality instead of discussing if we should even talk about it at all, or about who it’s ok to talk about it with. I would love in this atlas to see sexuality through every knowledge and science angle: educational tips to be a listening and wise lover, a map of sexual practices over the world, knowledge about the body’s sensitivity, witnesses of the complexity of feeling love… It could go from documentation of the Yoni and Lingam celebrations in India to Barcelonian hardcore feminist post-porn, going through master-slave BDSM contract samples to polyamorous essays and cheesy erotic romances. I would love to read that!

“Touch You Over Seas”, Kim Doan Quoc