Lind about Minus Porn (cataluge text to the exhibition Precense
One’s gaze is drawn to something mushroom-like, squeezed
in between armchairs and refrigerators. The interiors look as
they came from hotel rooms in travel catalogues. But it turns
out that Palle Torsson’s photographs in fact derive from
pornographic pictures downloaded from the Internet.
human bodies have been retouched into something vaguely plant-like.
Yet our imagination gives them amorphous power. We see the bodies
now as instruments for sexual dreams, not as victims of torture.
The observer, far from being innocent, is part of the sordid pattern
Torsson uses the clichés of pornography to shed light on
today’s myths and power structures. On one level, “Minus
Porn” is about the Internet, and it experiments with the
way our consciousness, our drives and emotions, relate to the
medialisation of this aspect of our lives. But the work attains
greater depth because the artist also carries on a dialogue with
old nude pictures – perhaps above all with the previous
turn of the century and its obsession with the seamy sides of
those days eroticism (“sin”) was often portrayed as
a combination of fear and longing for social dissolution. Here
sin has been infantilised, becoming more like slime or jelly babies.
But the dissolution of form seems just as threatening as it was
a hundred years ago. Palle Torsson’s pictures are at least
as aesthetically ambivalent as those of the symbolists.
before this, the artist has investigated the mechanisms of humiliation
and the borderline between attraction and disgust, physical intimacy
and distance. He has also often challenged the sanctification
of art as an institution, recently by designing, together with
Tobias Bernstrup, the computer game “Museum Meltdown”,
where the players were urged to vandalise works in the Museum
of Modern Art in Stockholm. Since then, among other things, he
has slept naked with kittens in a shop window and invited the
audience to pay admission to enter “the Performance art
comparison to this, “Minus Porn” thus seems to be
a classical figurative work. Almost by reflex, I pour well-known
historical nudes into the holes left by the censored bodies, which
is easily explained, since pornography works with stereotyped
art models, in the same way that art works with pornographic images.
But when I feel the satisfaction of discovering a Franz von Stuck
or a de Kooning here and a Tom Wesselman there, “Minus Porn”
suddenly seizes tighter hold. The underlying ideas link pornography’s
crude commercial exploitation of people’s dreams to society’s
other, more concealed power hierarchies. And it asks painful questions
such as: Who throws the first stone, and isn’t everything
for sale nowadays? Including you?
its beauty and playful superficiality, “Minus Porn”
appeals to the desire of the public. While resembling sweets,
however, it simultaneously undermines the appetite by means of
distance and feelings of disgust.
(the sex drive?) becomes something mutually asocial. A carnivorous
plant or a bewitching siren’s song.