Barbora Kleinhamplová: MPEG Girl
14. 9. 2. 10. 2016
opening day: Tuesday, 13. 9. 2016 from 6PM
curator: Karina Kottová
Imagine work. We discuss it a lot these days: peeking into legalization of home office, still attempting to cast some light upon unpaid housework after decades of feminist endeavor, reviewing the possibilities for guaranteed basic income or 20hour workweek, speaking of mechanization of non-creative jobs, or qualitative re-examination of working conditions. Work, work, work! It seems like we are still trying to imagine alternatives in this no-future society, where CVs are more important than human faces (really?), which mostly hide behind the laptop screens anyway.
“How Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol”, e-flux titled an article I was too exhausted to read. Burnout became something almost desirable, as those who don’t get at least close to it supposedly do not surf on the accelerating wave of success (at least that’s what I thought the text suggested). Yes, we might imagine alternatives, but don’t we pray for them in the wrong temple, following a religion which doesn’t really seem to care much about the fact that a great portion of our lives is defined by something perhaps just a few of us sincerely enjoy? Of course, we might love our jobs. And if not, we definitely know how to take pleasure in spending the assets thus gained. So why all the frustration? Why the apathy? Why the dissatisfaction? We might blame it on the system, but let me bring up a friendly (and notorious) reminder: we are the system. And as we well know, the hardest thing is to change oneself.
Imagine a girl. Her profession could possibly be a pleasurable one (which is hard to say from observing it on my flat laptop screen) and it is definitely supposed to mediate pleasure to others. The “oldest trade” of treating one’s body and sexuality as a commodity, both in terms of “production” and “consumption”, has always been charged with an ambiguous mixture of attraction, oppression and repulsion. Although at some historical moments it could actually provide access to and represent certain personal freedom (for women in an obviously different way than for men), there has constantly been quite a price to pay. Today trading sex for money became somewhat “democratized” through the immense possibilities of recording and online access, creating a global network of spectators, who possibly wouldn’t (or couldn’t afford to) get themselves physically involved in the business.
Porn industry has been a guru in technological innovation in terms of expanding the grounds for virtual communication. There is no greater power than desire, and when connected to technology, miracles happen: we can sneak-in long distance, (almost) be there, (almost) feel it. Live chat, Skype – these are just sterilized and widespread versions of this pioneering industry’s original achievements. The connection is fast, and the content is more reachable than ever. Meanwhile, creating this content strangely became almost like any other job. You may agree that it seems rather repetitive. It seems rather standardized. At points it seems frustrating. Even though there are some nuances in current trends, even the wildest excesses have their clear position within the database of categorized lust. On the macro-level, it is so predictable. So easy to navigate. So hard to be surprised. And on the micro-level, oh well. The plots of a majority of porn movies (of course with some notable exceptions) are just endless variations of looping movements, unimaginative scenes and routine methods of operation:
Open your laptop. Answer a few emails. Scroll though your Facebook feed. Go to a meeting. Have a lunch break. Chew some bites of whatever is available in the close neighborhood, ideally something you didn’t eat yesterday. Answer more emails. More, More, More! – Yes! It’s done for today; breathe out and close your laptop. Start again tomorrow.
Or even (perhaps in a bit retro-romantic fashion): check-in. Stand by your machine. Do it. Once, twice, three times, four times… many times. Take a lunch break. Have a large portion of whatever is served. Get back to your place. Change your position. Do it again. Again, and again. Until the time is up. No climax today, sorry! Maybe the next time. Maybe when the paycheck arrives.
Perhaps we shouldn’t expect more from it: it is what it is. But wait; do we really have to surrender to apathy, or exchange actual satisfaction for a quest for mere “more”? Can’t we imagine any alternatives, more creative, more individual, more genuine and thus more fulfilling? The girl seems fine. She even seems to take some pleasure in her job, although in this field female orgasm is rather extracurricular. It is a particular kind of routine, but she knows it well and in this familiarity she can also find space for relaxation. Or even something close to meditation, at points. Once, she really flew away. To a different realm, even more virtual than her own moving image on the lascivious spectator’s computer screen. She claims to have become an MPEG. A mere fragment from the Silicon Valley dictionary, encompassing all yet signifying nothing (but the shortcut for Motion Pictures Expert Group). Yes, she became an expert in withdrawal. In abstraction. In dematerialization. In dissociation? She almost managed to disappear, but her motion picture was still there, somewhat haunting those four characters after the dot. Despite that they aren’t even visible on a porn site. You would have to download the video to see them (her), which nobody really does today. And yet, you wouldn’t even grasp a tiny percentage of her, she would be on your desktop just as on any other. She mastered the art of being everywhere and nowhere. Yet, she couldn’t completely escape.
A friendly reminder: withdrawal shouldn’t be mistaken for a change from within. Shall we try to reassess the meaning of “more”?
Animace: Vojtěch Pecka
Architektura výstavy ve spolupráci s Janem Pfeiffrem.
Účinkuje: Susan Ayn a další
Díky: Františku Kovaříkovi, Tomáši Moravcovi, Karlovi Valečkovi
Jeleni Gallery exhibition program is possible through kind support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Council, State Fund of Culture of the Czech Republic, City District Prague 7