Shunga Nansensu 2020

Direction Julian Harold
Photography Jelena Luise
Cast Lukas Gschwandtner
Installation Views Morgan Shaw
Technique Giclée Print on 160GSM Glossy Baryta Hahnemühle
Material Alluminium, Glass, Heat-Pressed Linen
Dimensions 70 X 100 X 2 CM
Edition 1

Encyclopedias define fetichism as a sexual fixation on a nonliving object or a nongenital body part which the fetichist attributes inherent values or powers to. Desire, as certainly the most vital and essential feature of human species, has eternally been the subject of both cultural and self-censorships depending on civilisations and regions of the world. Triptych Shunga Nansensu interprets the tabula rasa, post American occupation, which left Japanese sexual mores dramatically alienated for generations. Joining forces with Entente Powers on the wake of WWI from the other side of the planet, Japanese society will forcefully mutate to follow Western laws of virtue. The first translations of Western medical studies on sexuality including Freud’s Psychopathia Sexualis will surely accentuate on the differences which distinguish Japanese and Western approach to sexuality. The word perversion will arduously get translated in the Japanese language and will soon categorise multiple local sexual practices which go against puritan Western standards. Over the twenties, a radical process of alienation will take over the country, banning the production of erotic depictions called shungas, typical of the Edo-period. All forms of non-reproductive sexualities including masturbation, sodomy, polygamy and homosexuality become illegal to meet the standards of the West.
Through the nineteen-thirties, Japan is facing spectacularly unstable political times, witnessing a rise of ultra-nationalism and militarism with the backdrop of a forthcoming rapprochement with the Nazis. Switching to a radically different ally and suffering from a unprecedented culture of censorship, movement Ero Guro Nansensu emerges within proletarian artistic milieus. Writings and drawings will assess the line between the deviant and the ridiculous, eroticism and death. On May 18, 1936, Kichizo Ishida is found dead and emasculated over a bed in a Tokyo brothel. His lover geisha Abe Sada erotically asphyxiated him, both reaching a transcendental sexual climax. After laying with the body for several hours, Sada took a kitchen knife and severed his genitals using his blood to write Sada, Kichi Futari-kiri or Sada, Kitchi together on his left thigh. After instructing the staff not to disturb Ishida, Abe Sada leaves with his genitals wrapped up in newspapers under her silk kimono. Metaphor of a culturally asphyxied nation, the Abe Sada incident will take a whole new meaning in the aftermath of the American oppucation in Japan. Regarded as an authority on both sexuality and freedom, Abe Sada will headline local magazine True Story in January 1949 with unpublished photographs of the incident and before magazine Monthly Reader calling her a heroine for 
following her own desires in a time of false morality and oppression. The triptych depicts a self-enclosed scene of fetichism blurring the distinctions between man, animal and flora, insisting on the both intimate and universal nature of desire. Emancipated from an exclusively Western tradition of the aesthetic experience related to the divine, the piece approaches desire and its material representation. To our greatest pleasure, a vulva-like flower opens the series, unfolds its leaves and bends elegantly. It is torn between a desire to bloom and an anxiety which stops it from unveiling its inner treasure. A muscular calf in action follows, letting the voyeur imagine the tension of a bare foot in a leather boot pressing on the ground off-camera. Contrasting with a rather feminine and delicate opening picture, the second shot leaves the nature of the calf rather ambiguous and lures our desire towards this man / horse representation. The third picture unveils a mysterious fury instrument placed over a sweaty and androgynous chest.

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