Frauke-ad-exeunt
Reviews Glasgow Published 10 March 2017

Review: Discourse or Intercourse / Talking & Fucking at Take Me Somewhere, Glasgow

CCA ⋄ 7 March 2017

“Gently exposes its audience’s attitudes”: Andrew Edwards reviews an immersive performance examining the spaces where people with disabilities are both users and creators of pornography.

Andrew Edwards
Discourse or Intercourse / Talking & Fucking at Take Me Somewhere.

Discourse or Intercourse / Talking & Fucking at Take Me Somewhere.

Following The Arches’ closure Jackie Wylie and Andy Field invited twenty artists to contribute radical ideas to a Glasgow Imaginary Festival. The festival was staged on billboards across Glasgow, performing within the gaps created between the artists’ imaginations and those of people walking through Glasgow’s streets. DISCOURSE OR INTERCOURSE / TALKING & FUCKING was the contribution made by Robert Softley, creator of the highly-acclaimed If These Spasms Could Speak, which debuted at the 2012 iteration of Arches’ BEHAVIOUR Festival. At the first Take Me Somewhere this radical idea has been developed into a live experience, an immersive performance for two audience members that examines the spaces where people with disabilities are both users and creators of pornography.

DISCOURSE OR INTERCOURSE / TALKING & FUCKING is divided across two rooms, an installation and a performance, a binary choice and something more fluid. I and the other audience member are shown into a room. It is a very dark space, save for two pools of light that are emitted from TV screens. The screens are stood back to back, with chairs in front of them and headphones. I sit down in the seat and am placed into a familiar environment – the quality of the glare, the weight of the headphones, the curve of my back leaning into the seat. This is the space in which pornography is most typically consumed – a particular kind of darkness and a particular kind of privacy. In the distance, towards the right-hand side of the room, I hear the sounds of two people fucking. Two voices, two noises, moans collide to an occasional climax, or some peak, and then a lapse into a pause. A shuffling, weights are shifting, re-positioning, and then a building starts again.

On the screen are eight video clips, the four to the left labelled ‘DISCOURSE’, and the four to the right ‘INTERCOURSE’. There is a remote. I scroll through the titles; ‘Guy in wheelchair sucks cock’, ‘Hot teen gets fucked by cripple’. My hands are sweating. I opt for two videos from the left, interviews with academics about “why disabled bodies are desexualised” and “whether pornography is a good measure of social progress”. I tell myself that I choose DISCOURSE because I’m conscious of the other person in the room, and feel too awkward to watch pornography in their company. The second video ends and I listen to the sounds of people fucking, they orgasm, or at least come to a rest. A lighted arrow is turned on. The door opens, dispelling the gloom. I and the other audience member leave the space, following the sound of a voice calling us through.

The voice calling us in belongs to Softley, who is showering after filming a porno-scene. Drying himself off, he sits next to us on a black sofa, partially wrapped in a white robe, and delivers a short monologue. He is excellent company, speaking with a warmth and humour about his experiences of making and using pornography, shifting between anecdotes and observations with ease. In detailing his experiences, Softley makes a positive, uplifting and quite surprising argument for the making and consumption of pornography, the claim that people with disabilities have the right to be present themselves sexually and to be sexualised by others. The tensions within the pornography industry are acknowledged, namely of exploitation and the fetishisation of sexualities, ethnicities and body-types. Softley gently sets aside these larger issues to consider for a moment whether the presence of disabled performers in pornography is a measure of social inclusion, and whether the proliferation of means to self-produce pornography might offer a platform for people with disabilities to express themselves sexually, to position themselves to the world in a way able-bodied people might take for granted. Softley puts it best, “What’s wrong with wanting to watch normal people, people like you, fucking and being fucked?”

DISCOURSE OR INTERCOURSE / TALKING & FUCKING is a work that gently exposes its audience’s attitudes towards people with disabilities, namely a discomfort at, or at the very least ignorance to, the sexualisation of differently abled bodies. Faced with the choice, I make the decision to not watch pornography featuring disabled performers, choosing discourse over intercourse. This decision was made in part because it was 4pm on a Tuesday, yet this specific decision speaks to a more general pattern of behaviour, a decision to not sexualise differently abled bodies when offered the choice. This is a decision that most people will have made many times before, without ever stopping to think about what that means, what boundaries that establishes. Sitting down next to Softley, this ignorance is then not only shone a light on but undermined, such is the intimacy of the encounter. Softley leans over and kisses my cheek, a small moment of intimacy, that activates an arousal in me, a momentary recognition of the sexual nature of the person in front of me.

For more information on Discourse or Intercourse / Talking & Fucking, click here

Advertisement

OCTOROON_MPU

Andrew Edwards is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Discourse or Intercourse / Talking & Fucking at Take Me Somewhere, Glasgow Show Info


Written by Robert Softley

Advertisement

Nora_MPU_300x250_2

the
Exeunt
newsletter


Enter your email address below to get an occasional email with Exeunt updates and featured articles.


Advertisement

Support-Us3-3