Walking in, I immediately heard a low confident voice finish a phrase,”…like Duchamp.” This was the artist Jonathon Keats with a bow tie and tweed jacket, talking about everything he tried to get out of his mind. Around were his concepts brought to life or death. A girl stood under a projector that shone on an assortment of drying plants. She took notes with a pen in a little spiral bound notebook. The show is titled ‘Pornography for God’ and includes the prior work, ‘Pornography for Plants.’

A little aside, this one about Joseph Beuys, a conceptual artist, one of the disciples of concept as art, a creator in the unencumbered sense and a guy who asked complicated questions over beer. At his second solo show, in 1965 in a small German town, he painted a whole bunch of pictures and once enough people came (for the free Riesling, I guess), he locked the doors to the gallery and barricaded the windows. Then he started walking around with a dead rabbit in his hands speaking about each of the pieces. Thus was born: “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare.”

A less-known fact is that the rabbit was served at the after-party dinner, hosted by Duchamp’s spirit, where another, less critically-minded, artist of the period said: “finally this will become something to sell.” No, it wasn’t Terence Koh. This is the connection to Marcel Duchamp that is also the connection to many conversations that lead absolutely nowhere and important notes in history to how we have these conversations.

Jonathon Keats seemed to be doing the very same but with live humans, and taking his time to answer every question that, the sometimes stunned, visitors could come up with. I’ve only heard him break his fluent stride while explaining the ‘Pornography for God’ piece once, the question was about the depth* at which the Large Hadron Collider is buried.

Ok, now we’re getting to the actual part of Keats’ art, the particular piece is about physics and not just physics of attraction**, but the actual science. Don’t close tab, fair reader of the modern blip-blip age, it’ll take just a second. This is true: a bunch of people are in a huge laboratory underneath Switzerland, taking things we know about and smashing them together to break them down to see what they are made of, and they repeat this until they find that these things can’t be broken anymore, at which point we will presumably know what everything around is really made of, and also we will know the limits of material things. Jonathon set up an altar, that shows in real-time, the experiments that are happening there, and, one could purchase a tea candle at the bar for a $1 and leave it at the altar.

God Is Masturbating to the Stimulation Here

The experiments at the Collider attempt to recreate the conditions that existed during the birth of our universe. Now birth, in an ideal situation, for instance, for us, people, birth is preceded by a union, a bottle of Pinot Noir and some fairly tepid noodles and then of course, sex. This is the parallel I am attempting to draw, crudely: birth of a human follows after sex which feels great, because otherwise we would never do that whole thing, and birth of a universe follows after god has sex and that sex should also feel good.

Now, the actual action – sex and birth of child – is the real deal, as was the creation of the universe, then pornography is something that simulates sex but does not provide the full stimulation and does not result in a birth. According to Keats, this is what the experiments at the Hadron Collider*** are providing to the god, if she exists, who had first created all of this.

Partial stimulation as pornography and full gratification as sexuality were a lot easier to see in the earlier ‘Pornography for Plants’, the somewhat alive plants were lit by a projector that shone an undulating light onto them from above. Plants love light and would prefer to have it constantly (well, some plants do, etc.) but to tease them and present them with some light and to take it away is a striptease by the artist.

These plants are masturbating (what are you doing)

A gardener amongst us remarked that: “the plants looked awful and dry, dry being the last thing I think of when I think of sex, these look like runaways from a bodega”, so maybe pornography dries one up.

The show can be seen at the LOUIS V E.S.P gallery until November 23rd, it’s located at 140 Jackson, Brooklyn, NY.

* It’s a ring with a 27 mile circumference buried under the Swiss/France border at a depth of 574 feet.

**There were plenty of flirty groups and singles in the main room of the Louis V gallery, mostly smoking, telling stories, drinking Bud from cans and dancing.

***The jokes about this actually being the Hardon Collider (pic) were not included in the show.

(Bored Jesus pic via Canterburyatheists.org.nz)

  1. Thanks for writing about the show.
    Just a note, that the full gallery name is actually LOUIS V E.S.P.
    More info at http://www.louisvesp.com