The Art of Desire

We canvas various physiological expressions of longing alongside visual documentations of lovers immortalised through time.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Bolt ,  1777-1778

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Bolt, 1777-1778

 

What is desire? A quickening of the pulse? An appetite for action, for closeness, for the intensity borne out of an incidental meeting of the minds, a longing to dominate another’s body, to be dominated, to possess, relinquish, to know and make known? And what does it mean to desire, which is to say, how do we express and actualise an abstract idea, an inkling, into action? What are the languages that we use to connect with one another?

Today, we contemplate the art of desire. We canvas various physiological expressions of longing alongside visual documentations of lovers immortalised through time.

 

Introduction Chynna Lao
Essay Louisa Paternoster

 

 

 
 

Object lessons

Many of our daily interactions, as well as the intimate, more nuanced occasions, are mediated by objects. It is a revealing, intimate experience to share one's desires with another, and can often feel unnerving at times. Objects act as brilliant silent mediators which allow us to gently and tenderly reveal more about ourselves. As simple as an item of clothing left behind, a borrowed book or a small token of affection, sharing experiences through objects allows us to truly share in another's thinking processes. By considering these objects as a form of pedagogy, as objects which teach, we are able to learn about our own desires as well as others. What if we read these tokens of affection or borrowed items as we did artistic objects? When we consider their form, meaning, production, we are able to understand how we accept affection, and how others may offer or provide it.

 

Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe--Hands and Thimble, 1919

Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe--Hands and Thimble, 1919

 
 


"By considering these objects as a form of pedagogy, as objects which teach, we are able to learn about our own desires as well as others. What if we read these tokens of affection or borrowed items as we did artistic objects?"


 
 
Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, 1981

Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, 1981

The gaze

The gaze remains one of the most powerful human forces for within it we truly exist for one another. The meeting of more than just eyes; of minds and ideologies for within the gaze we are arrested by the understanding that we are being seen, witnessed by another in totality. As time slows, we succumb to its interrogation and navigate the profoundly intimate experience of feeling as though we exist. There is something incredibly tactile, motoric and textured about the visual, the gaze envelopes us as its subjects, ignites our passions and encourages a spirit of enquiry.

 

"For it is within proximity we are able to bare our souls and experience the totality of relationships, whether intimate, platonic, short lived or for life."


 
 

Proximity

Whether it be physical or figurative, the closeness between two individuals profoundly effects our experience of desire, what we lust after and what we yearn for. To be in proximity with another can feel like a shock to the system. The body is filled with warmth, the skin feels electric and radiant, as if glowing with the energy of the other. Mediating our desires for proximity and independence can prove a difficult trail to follow. As the aphorism goes ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ yet the binding laws of proximity may prevail. The open-mindedness, versatility and the willingness to learn which develop from true proximity, if nurtured, can grow into newfound avenues of intuition. For it is within proximity we are able to bare our souls and experience the totality of relationships, whether intimate, platonic, short lived or for life.

 

 

Auguste Rodin, Le Baiser (The Kiss), ca. 1886

Auguste Rodin, Le Baiser (The Kiss), ca. 1886

 
 

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