Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh Bondage Up Yours!


...if you don't know the title, it's the name of the Xray Spex song that helped kick off the whole punk rock movement in the 70s, so this interview's gotta have a point to it, right? I mean wasn't the whole scene a play on BDSM culture?

From Vice magazine: an interview with Nayland Blake, none of which really touches on the mysterious and mercurial nature of his art, that's VERY focused on his fetishes...

but I only just learned at the last interview that being a big, gay man with a BDSM and role playing fascination is a significant part of the singular and insightful nature of his works that are beyond categorization.

Below's a clip from the interview (the portrait's by Richard Kern):

VICE: A lot of art films that included graphic sex had no other outlet but those places. I guess it’s a function of just being in New York City, but it doesn’t surprise me that the communities of so-called perverts and artists overlapped a lot.

Nayland Blake:I have a kind of high-falutin’ theory about it.

VICE:Let’s hear it.

Nayland Blake: I think that the rise of leather culture in the mid-60s through the 70s paralleled the rise of performance art. People like Marina Abramovich and Vito Acconci were basically born out of the same impulse as the leather men, but one was taking place inside the art world and one was taking place in the underground. Many of the same issues were being looked at. You can talk about leather culture as being the anonymous folk-art version of the supposedly more respectable gallery work.

VICE:I like that way of looking at it.

Nayland Blake: It’s also no coincidence that both of those things were being cracked down on in the 80s by Ronald Reagan. It’s that sort of cultural surge, that way of playing with power and trying to expand the body’s limits that was met with all this backlash and repression later on.

VICE:It seems like this impulse is nowhere in the art world right now. Nobody is carrying on that tradition and I don’t know why. I had a really good theory about it a second ago, but I forgot it.

Nayland Blake: Well, for one, it’s really hard to sell. Also, ideas no longer really occur in the art world. Ideas have been turned into style. The social implications of all of that body work have been stripped away, and now it’s just seen as a style of art-making. It’s a style that’s down right now, but it will be up later on.

VICE:Shit, so there are no ideas in the art world right now?

Nayland Blake: It’s really pervasive. I lay the blame for it on the internet. Here’s another way to tie the leather world and the art world together—there was a time when, to be interested in either of those things, you had to put your body on the line. In other words, you had to show up to the gallery or the club.

VICE:And now, everything can be seen on the internet a couple of minutes after it happens. It’s the same thing with music. It’s way easier to be a poser and a dilettante with the internet as a research tool for more effective bullshitting.

Nayland Blake: And that’s one of the reasons why I’m loathe to talk much about the event I’m going to this weekend. I think it’s great that there are still some things in society that you have to be initiated into. You have to make a commitment to it to be able to see it.

VICE:Sometimes I wish the internet would die and we could just use the phone and the mail and zines and mixtapes again. Maybe that means I’m getting old.

Nayland Blake: Some of the work I’m doing now involves these things that I make totally anonymously and leave out on the street. I’ve been doing things like drawing on garbage, making little pieces that I leave out, sort of as gifts for people. I don’t document them with photographs or anything.

VICE:That’s awesome. Nowadays if there isn’t a photo of something on Flickr, it’s like it never existed.

Nayland Blake: On the internet, we have all this information but it doesn’t necessarily have any value for us because we didn’t work for it. You turn on the tap and information comes out. We don’t know what the consequences of that will be yet.

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