Essays On Bob Flanagan

Essays On Bob Flanagan-68
The objects in the hospital referred to by Kaufman were pieces of artwork from the back catalogue of Flanagan/Rose, as well as editions created specifically for the exhibition.These included Flanagan's own version of the popular 1990's US children's toy the in which the original figure with transparent skin showing its organs is modified to include a penis as well as sperm, faeces and mucus oozing from the orifices of the doll.Because it feels good; because it gives me an erection; because it makes me come; because I’m sick; because there was so much sickness; because I say fuck the sickness; because I like the attention; because I was alone alot; because I was different; because kids beat me up on the way to school; because I was humiliated by nuns; because of Christ and the crucifixion; because of Porky Pig in bondage, force-fed by some sinister creep in a black cape; because of stories of children hung by their wrists, burned on the stove, scalded in tubs; because of Mutiny on the Bounty; because of cowboys and Indians; because of Houdini; because of my cousin Cliff; because of the forts we built and the things we did inside them; because of my genes; because of my parents; because of doctors and nurses; because they tied me to the crib so I wouldn’t hurt myself; because I had time to think; because I had time to hold my penis; because I had awful stomach aches and holding my penis made it feel better; because I’m a Catholic; because I still love Lent, and I still love my penis, and in spite of it all I have no guilt; because my parents said be what you want to be, and this is what I want to be; because I’m nothing but a big baby and I want to stay that way, and I want a mommy forever, even a mean one, especially a mean one; because of all the fairy tale witches and the wicked step mother, and the step sisters, and how sexy Cinderella was, smudged with soot, doomed to a life of servitude; because of Hansel, locked in a witch’s cage until he was fat enough to eat; because of “O” and how desperately I wanted to be her; because of my dreams; because of the games we played; because I have an active imagination; because my mother bought me tinker toys; because hardware stores give me hard-ons; because of hammers, nails, clothespins, wood, padlocks, pullies, eyebolts, thumbtacks, staple-guns, sewing needles, wooden spoons, fishing tackle, chains, metal rulers, rubber tubing, spatulas, rope, twine, C-clamps, S-hooks, razor blades, scissors, tweezers, knives, push pins, two-by-fours, ping-pong tables, alligator clips, duct tape, broom sticks, bar-b-que skewers, bungie cords, saw horses, soldering irons; because of tool sheds; because of garages; because of basements; because of dungeons; because of The Pit and The Pendulum; because of the Inquisition; because of the rack; because of the cross; because of the Addams Family playroom; because of Morticia Addams and her black dress with its octopus legs; because of motherhood; because of Amazons; because of the Goddess; because of the Moon; because it’s in my nature; because it’s against nature; because it’s nasty; because it’s fun; because it flies in the face of all that’s normal, whatever that is; because I’m not normal; because I used to think that I was part of some vast experiment and that there was this implant in my penis that made me do these things and allowed them, whoever they were, to monitor my activities; because I had to take my clothes off and lie inside this giant plastic bag so the doctors could collect my sweat; because once upon a time I had such a high fever my parents had to strip me naked and wrap me in sheets to stop the convulsions; because my parents loved me even more when I was suffering; because I was born into a world of suffering; because surrender is sweet; because I’m attracted to it; because I’m addicted to it; because endorphins in the brain are like a natural kind of heroin; because I learned to take my medicine; because I was a big boy for taking it; because I can take it like a man; because, as someone once said, he’s got more balls than I do; because it is an act of courage; because it does take guts; because I’m proud of it; because I can’t climb mountains; because I’m terrible at sports; because no pain, no gain; because spare the rod and spoil the child; BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE.

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In this article I explore the ways in which artists have worked with the duration of the hospital bed in order to re-imagine this endurance as a worthwhile activity towards self-ownership.

The article discusses a number of works but focuses on Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose’s 1992-1995 retrospective (Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1992; New Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1994; and Boston Centre for Fine Art in 1995) in which the gallery is turned into a hospital displaying all of their visual and video art works and includes the artists themselves.

The screens showed the specific body parts undergoing SM style torture and climaxed in the head of Flanagan's penis being nailed to a plank of wood.

(1982) is a wall made of 1800 images of Flanagan's face.

The hospital bed allows biomedicine full control and access to the body and renders the sick person as patient.

Lying in bed becomes a position of passiveness, submission and vulnerability.

The photographs document a process in which Rose hit Flanagan with fifty implements.

Using a shutter-release cable, Rose took an image of Flanagan's face as he was struck.

In the hospital room I began to think about my position as a patient and the ways in which I submit to the authority of medical knowledge in order to treat my body, something that I had been addressing in my own practice.

But in the context of the hospital room the position as passive body is evenly more keenly felt.


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