Friday, April 20, 2007

Richard Prince sexual fantasies and sexual frustrations of middle-class America

A sexual fantasy is a deliberate fantasy or pattern of thought with the goal of creating or enchancing sexual feelings; it is mental imagery that an individual considers to be erotic. These fantasies have great variation in their makeup and purpose: they can be long, drawn-out stories or quick mental flashes of sexual imagery; their purposes range from obvious sexual motivations, such as sexual arousal and reaching orgasm, to simply passing the time or helping a person fall asleep. Sexual fantasies are nearly universally experienced and can be positive, negative, or even both. A person may or may not wish to enact their sexual fantasies in real life; some may find their fantasies completely unacceptable — or even physically impossible — were they to be transposed into real life.
Sexual frustration describes the condition in which a person is in a state of agitation, stress or anxiety due to prolonged sexual inactivity and/or sexual dissatisfaction that leads them to want more sex or better sex, or a state in which he/she is sexually aroused but unable to act on the feeling. The term does not define whether his/her desire is normal or abnormally high; it simply means that his/her arousal is not being met by activity and therefore he/she is experiencing tension as a result.

It is sometimes used to imply that a person has an overactive sex drive (accusatory sense), although more often it implies simply an uncomfortably low level of sexual activity, or some arousing stimulation that is causing frustration (in the sympathetic sense).

Lack of sexual activity is not the only cause of sexual frustration; the condition may also be caused by a lack of a desired activity, such as acting out fantasies or trying new positions. In many cases, sexual frustration leads to compulsive masturbation.

In 1975 Richard Prince began to use photographs in his art work. He collected magazine advertising photographs and created collages, combining them with text. He made a shift in techique in 1977 when he began re-photographing advertising photographs. The image might be re-cropped and enlarged, out of focus, in colour or black and white. These are relatively subtle technical transformations but raise many questions relating to the status and intention of the work.

The re-photographing questions authorship; can we accept Prince as the author of the images even though they are essentially direct appropriations of ready-made images? Do we read the images as adverts, as fine art, a combination of the two or a critique of both? How much emphasis should we place on Prince's choice of images; did he have an emotional response to them; do they reveal aspects of the artist's identity? Image appropriation was particularly dominant in the work of young artists in the late 1970s and 1980s. Artists such as Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine and Sarah Charlesworth, in different ways, deconstructed existing imagery often drawn from commercial graphics to create new discourses for and questionings of fine art practice. It is interesting to note that photography, more than any other medium, was used to exemplify the new art theories in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


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