High art avoids sex – it belongs to a porn class, the crowd not worth associating with. Neither the sexual revolution nor Natalia LL has managed to change this state of things; a banana in a blonde’s mouth still irritates the sensitive palates of the Polish audience.
Second-wave feminism sought emancipation through the body by opposing the truths preached by priests, gynaecologists and experts. Feminists replaced the partial objectivity of the authorities with the direct production of knowledge that they obtained, for example, during self-examination. In Poland, the sexual revolution was fought on the film reels of amateur directors and during night kitchen debates, while in the mainstream, real socialism continued to prevail. It produced the almost identical bodies of workmen and workwomen, with the only difference being that the latter wore plaits. Despite the engagement of the Women’s League activists, all differences were eventually silenced by the common good. It was later made up for by postmodernism, which, having skipped modernity, provided Polish men and women with a plethora of identity politics.
At the turn of the millennium, everyone was looking for a self-fulfilment among the wide variety of personal pronouns. Even though “gender” was supposed to culturally determine bodies, it drifted away from them politically (in Poland, it was known as Lord Gender). Today, when every man and every woman is aware of their sexual identity, the right to abortion still remains the privilege of the rich.
The contemporary accelerationism once again fails to take account of the bodies, especially the ones resistant to updating, the precarious, sick and old bodies. In the digital age, an eyeball on a power drip projects its virtual avatars – the remaining unproductive organs pack the hallways of emergency rooms. In the 7th issue of the RTV Magazine we wish to save the degraded bodily matter. It is not enough to correct, filter or conceal; we demand electric shocks! We did not forget about ourselves in the privatised virtual space. We were found by the GDPR, which took control of the well-being of our customised images. It is time to come back to Earth, whose finite resources have allowed us, until recently, to take holidays on the net-waves.
We propose to come back to the bodies which have been orphaned by the nomadism of thoughts. The first step towards reducing that distance is to appreciate sensuality. Let’s start with breath, smell and sound. Let’s close our eyes and surrender to the rhythm of the air flowing through our mouth, throat and lungs, as suggested by Dobrawa Borkała, Katarzyna Korytowska and Edka Jarząb. Let’s start to listen and feel. Let’s remind ourselves that sexuality is not limited to the concept of a relationship between two people; it may also be relational anarchism and romantic polyamory, about which we can read in the dictionary written by Katarzyna Grunt-Mejer and illustrated by Katarzyna Kukuła. Let’s remember that sex is an experiment, a creative material, as demonstrated by the artists: Małga Kubiak, Justyna Górowska, AntiGonna and PussyMantra; it is constructing and dissolving one’s identity, producing knowledge about the world from one’s own body. Sex is also love, a disease, a fetish; all of these things collectively or separately. Edyta Zierkiewicz writes about the sexualisation of breast cancer, which both reinforces and removes the taboo at the same time; by adding to the symbolic validation of the disease, it reduces its role to a fetish. Daria Skok tackles male voyeurism by analysing the exhibition “Paint, also known as Blood” in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. By quoting Ms Aurelia, one of the participants (“I liked that it was about love and sex”), the creators of a board game for people with disabilities (Celina Kamecka-Antczak, Klaudia Wos and Mateusz Szafrański) remind us that sexuality is a right that every citizen should have the same access to, regardless of the differing abilities.
The issue closes with an interview with the creators and organizers of the Rabarbar Queer Porn Festival: Martyna Tokarska and Kinga Michalska. As it turns out, while being occasionally ethical, porn always remains political.
In a wider context, sexuality has always involved some reflection on the social order, an attempt to transgress that order, the disapproval of the status quo, and the conflict between the desire to dissolve in the world, to commit the ultimate personal potlatch (“to feed”, “to consume” in the Chinook language), and the social contract.
A sexual body still causes a sense of unease. Such a body is consciously sexual, inconsumable; it does not exist for someone else’s pleasure. As Georges Bataille once wrote, sexual awareness is the starting point for designing a new reality; it anticipates the future. Alternative living communities, activist groups, experimental art collectives, friendships; they provide the necessary space for working with sexuality. A body is a tool for cooperation. Still, this sphere is usually hidden. People working with sexuality seem lonely, cocky or difficult. They sometimes make others feel uncomfortable. Working with one’s own body provokes banal questions about exhibitionism, while it is all about responsibility. Overtly sexual works are excluded from official circulation – there is no place for them online, and it is forbidden to present them in the public space. It is also difficult for the participants themselves for various, constantly changing reasons. “I can’t always use the images of my actors,” says Małga. “Andrzej is working on his doctorate, Karolina’s husband sometimes doesn’t like it. Every time I have to ask them. So we show ourselves instead”.
The facts are as follows: Synergia [Synergy], a collective led by Kasia, invited Edka, Pussymantra and me to work with them. Edka helped Dobrawa to work on Jaśnienie [A brightening]. We both performed in Małga’s films. In one of them, we performed together. Dobrawa and Justyna participate in the project of Matka Rzeka [Mother River], Antii cooperated with Dream Adoption Society formed by the girls from Pussy. This is where she met Małga, who showed up to play in my film. Antii has been sick and we will soon visit her in Odessa. Kasia, Małga, Edka, Dobrawa and Antii have performed in the film sexinsitu, which will be shown at HER Docs Film Festival created by Kasia. We are partners, lovers, friends. We feed our cats, water our plants, and dole out food to our dogs. We hold together.
This is hardly a story about queer nepotism or a public declaration of a polyamorous relationship; it is more about pointing out some consistency in thinking of oneself and the world as the space for a continuous sexual exchange. We live in constellations with others. Everything is open, spilling into the reality; thousands of microorganisms changing and mixing with each breath, bodies penetrated with the smell, sound, and intensity of events.
We fall apart and then put each other back together, rosy, shiny, excessive. We embrace chaos, tides, dispersion. We form unions. We help each other. We work together. We talk. We have to take care of each other. Working with sexuality is a coming out that changes everything. You reject the market trends, become a threat, refuse to wait. It is an every-day practice of defying the authorities, dismantling violence. Sensitivity, care and trust. Being together in times of weakness, need, poverty. Another familiarisations, further coming outs. Therapy. Love flows through us. We are water, breath, smell, voice, flesh and death.
Sexinsitu is a project aimed at creating and developing a new sexual visuality that will restore the human dimension of sexuality. In our project we reject the pornographic aesthetics and images which turn sex into a commodity and are meant to satisfy the viewers; instead, we produce images that place the sexual sphere in the realm of emotion, closeness and relationships. The videos produced within the project do not feature sex; they are physical reconstructions of particular sexual memories of the participants, performed solo.
A body situated alone in space, without a partner, recalling the shared moments – it provokes questions about responsibility and pleasure, as well as about the role and function of the body, mind and memory in the process of experiencing pleasure, loving and/or forming relationships. Sexinsitu problematises human sexuality in the philosophical dimension by treating sex as a personal but not private matter. Its aim is to restore the social dimension of sexuality.