Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Let's start off easy.

The first image seems the most banal. But we'll get back to it.
The second is clearly far from innocent. Or rather, it is its absolute innocence that brings the tension.
Just one more innocent painting to keep you off-guard...

And here we go:Most of Melissa Steckbauer's spicier pictures are somewhere along the lines of the above. They are people in erotic/sexual situations with animals, realistic or mythical ones. Now, how in the world can she include the first painting you see here (the bear-girl) in the same series, Animalia, as the ones you've just seen?
That is precisely what gives the series such power. They demistify us by including us in the myth. This human animal becomes a being of flesh. Of flesh and myth. This teddy bear is the same girl that's having sex with the dog, moving away from the otherness as it penetrates her. Better: she and the beast are one flesh. They are no different, as if in peace with their unbearable similarity. Look at the man with the bear. What is this? A killing? Could it possibly be a hug? No, it is a hug, be it intended or not. It is flesh, it is warm and cuddly. And foreign. Although harmonious - Steckenbauer insists that for her the crucial issue in terms of eroticism is ethics, which she seems to oppose to a set of taboos. But is there really no taboo? No hidden, dangerous zone? To the contrary, the further she goes, the more mysterious and ambivalent the universe. What is this animal, and how does one distinguish it from oneself?

In the interview at the end of this post, Steckbauer talks about her appreciation for "meat in the painting". And for softness and gentleness. And one of my favorite works of hers combines these two. It is somewhat different from the others, reminding me of Man Ray, maybe. What can we do, it says, what can we do if this is the touch of flesh, the touch that seems to go through my body, to immobilize us as it multiplies the members and gets us way out into oblivion, a communication made ambiguous, an identity lost, or repainted, or foresaken, for the sake of what, of what, oh don't ask me, enjoy.

PS: I dedicate this post to the memory of my aunt, whom I first had the chance to speak to when I was 17. We spoke on the phone (she lived in another country). Her very first words to me were: "Hello young man! How are you? How is your sex life?"



LizW said...

Fascinating work, thanks for sharing.

Survive the Jive said...

hur hur....freak

nah this stuff is awesome

karen said...

Very odd work but I can see the beauty in the art

AnnaReBa said...

love it !

AnnaReBa said...

Your blog is very interesting !

art (L)!

kate said...

I LOVE your pictures and your blog. I love all things that keep us human! The place I actually work for (Last Voices, I think I shared here before) has some pretty amazing pictures from journeys all around the world including Vanuatu and Bostwana. Things like this let me breathe. I try to keep my own blog honest too. Check it out if you have a second.

Fauldsie said...

This blog was very interesting. I think that the artwork is beautiful but I also think that it pushes a lot of boundaries, possibly a bit too far...What do you guys think? I mean if I'm looking at it from the point of view of someone who might not be too artistic or too interested...Would that not shock you a bit? Or maybe offend? I dunno...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Squeeky Fromm said...

I am a poet, sometimes, and the playful nature of your art made me think of this, a whimsical poem. (Which I pray does not entirely degenerate into doggerel, but I have been drinking.) Diana (aka Artemis) was the Goddess of the Hunt, among other things. I'm sure Wiki has a brief overview of both. Deer were sacred to her. She had a Sacred Wood, as I recall, which has a double meaning here. And a bow and arrow. And a Crescent Moon.

Deer John

Deer John and Diana
Played midst Sacred Wood,
Where John tried in vain
To pierce her Maidenhood.

But Diana was strong
As John found, to his woe.
And she repaid the act.
With a shaft from her bow.

She struck nothing vital,
And he recovered soon.
With a new found respect.
They cavort 'neath the Moon.

You can use this if you like

Squeeky Fromm
Sometime Poet

(No, I'm NOT that one!)

PaisleyHarvest said...

uh, ok, this is the first time I've come across this painter. I've actually surprised myself in how much I'm intrigued by the work. It is sensual.... but its a person ****ing an animal. I should be outraged, say how disguisting it is. Its not. Its an amusing metaphor for human behaviour, it is erotic, can we not enjoy that side of it without doubting ourselves for feeling it. People are all too worried about what you should read from work and what 'it says' you should feel. Can we not feel for ourselves anymore.

Anonymous said...

those paintings are awful!
Art talk: much ado about nothing!!

Anonymous said...

great stuff. I'm so happy this blog exists. I've found many great works on here.

I just came across this blog a few weeks ago. Some interesting stuff....I am tryin to find more info on the artists. Many early works disappeared from the blog after they were sold.

what do you think?



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