I ▉▉▉▉, therefore I am.
I fuck, therefore I am.
It’s not love. It’s not sex. It’s not even copulation. It’s fucking. As simple – and as truthful – as that.
The affirmation of one’s existence through fucking is the confirmation of our biology – which western cultures have gradually erased from our lives, our routines, existence itself and, if we want to go there, from politics. By giving into our senses, desires and hormonal needs, emptying ourselves into the bodies of strangers, we acknowledge an animal truth that due to idealistic or conservative beliefs, we insist on withholding from (our) Nature. We are more Dionysian than Apollonian: humankind’s greatest tragedy.
A biography, a written diary, has a social foundation when the reality it portrays reflects a broader spectrum, in which others can recognise themselves. When this happens, the individual testament becomes collective, excepting its unique specifics. Joe Orton’s Orton Diaries is a detailed description of a gay relationship in which many have seen or continue to see themselves. Similarly, Colin Ginks’ exhibition OH FUCK YEAH, based in part on this document and the artist’s own life, is an extension and exploration of this testimony, an actualisation following countless battles with politics, moral standards, society, and the limits of one’s own body and science. Giving into the pleasures of the flesh, the anonymous fuck and the groping of voracious flesh in twos, threes or more is here emphatically explored, with no prejudice or modesty. Ultimately, in fucking there is no such thing as morality: just fluids, hormonal symbioses, brawn, flexing muscles, syncopated movements until final orgasm is achieved. In fucking there is no love, just lust.
In fact, in OH FUCK YEAH, Ginks does not speak about love, at least not explicitly. He delves into the body in its most primitive element, emotionally speaking, taking the arduous and harsh path of anxiety and of time. Of ageing flesh, fear of emptiness and of what is to come, of sickness, of instinctive consuming desire before the end, of fulfilment through fucking.
Yes, there is gay culture, and there are phenomena that can only be explained when we understand them. However, this behavioural cultural construct should not be exempt from critique by those who identify with it. Moreover, the exhibition and the artist emphasise this by invoking certain practices. Cruising: anonymous fucks in the middle of the undergrowth, among the bushes, behind the sparsely tall plants in the dunes of a rarely monitored and frequented beach; where few words are spoken and instead sounds are onomatopoeic, utterances of pleasure, pain, or both at the same time; action is fortuitous, quick, instantly gratifying, frantic – it matters little if the other enjoys it or experiences pleasure; it ends up in that masculine cockiness we’ve all seen before, but here perhaps spiked by stimulants and narcotics. Ginks appropriates from the city and its outskirts earth inseminated with countless unspeakable acts. The trees of the Jamor National Stadium serve as vigilant if aloof guards to the exchanges that take place there. There is no intimacy, just contact. Bareback: fucking with a condom; penetration in pairs or multiples, always without protection – AIDS is a thing of the past and no longer a death sentence or shameful; free from the limitations imposed by a punishing disease, the bodies surrender themselves no holds barred, without the inconvenience of a fine layer of latex around the penis arched within the anal cavities.
And there’s more to this particular glossary: Grindr, bears, twinks, daddies, drag queens, etc.
But, amongst the pages drawn and written by the artist for this exhibition, compiled as a kind of journal and displayed in the innermost corner of A Montanha gallery, the artist goes on to ask himself, as he presents us with a new word in the LGBT+ vernacular: “will I cry with the ache of brothers lost when I go on PreP?” PreP is an innovative drug that prevents the transmission of HIV with startling efficacy, a medical revolution and a step towards the elimination of the virus according to some scientists. Reality however, is more obtuse, with its viral strains tending to overcome human defences. That it is a breakthrough is still undeniable.
Nonetheless, the question casts a sombre shadow over the medical-scientific jargon, as PreP is one step closer to sex without protection. The condom was the defining condition sine qua non of gay relationships, of fucking, during decades recommended to homosexuals by the scientific community to protect themselves from AIDS. In those days, during the 1980s and early 1990s, fucking was inseparable from the fear of getting infected. Little was known about it. Fucking was synonymous with fear and the recollection of those who had perished with the disease, faces wasted away, bodies covered in black and purple blotches, artists who in their moment of glory had so much still to give. With PreP the fear has gone, as has the memory of those who were snuffed out too soon, with more to live for than just the darkrooms, dance floors, leafy parks, and furtive meets. In the times of Aids, fucking without a condom was surrendering oneself to one’s own desire for self-annihilation. But is fucking not this also?
In the installation that Colin Ginks has conceived, we hear the sound of a series of slow guttural moans, which although taken from pornographic films, have little to do with pleasure and rather more with agony. Our sense of history tells us that while science saves us from the darkness, it also blinds us in the agony of irresponsibility which is forgetting. The work is impossible to capture with the photographic lens. The smells of cardamom and earth cannot be photographed – the echoes of the uncanny and chilling soundtrack accompanying it also not. One’s physical presence is needed because this is much more than individual, biographic testimony – we are participating in a questioning of the entire history of a community which lifted itself with lofty ambition from the margins to become part of the global discourse of our civilisation, with corresponding loss, assimilation, integration and radical differentiation.
It is not for nothing that The Orton Diaries is exhibited on a plinth. The old tokens glorifying our past are sometimes to this day more sincere than most. Consequently it becomes impossible to disassociate this exhibition from a memorial – to those who died from Aids, those who did not get to love, those who fucked tirelessly and insatiably to the death.
And so the exhibition traces a path from biology to social and cultural critique, from Dionysus to Apollo, in an inescapable cycle that is in perpetual loop, endless. Compulsive as fucking, inevitable as emotion and reason.
I fuck, therefore I give in.
(Until November 4, A Montanha gallery)
(Translated by Colin Ginks)