Back Room Beatitudes
Stoic Swine's Back Room Beatitudes is 96 pornographic video stills hand drawn and then transposed via the laser print transfer process to four gold-painted wooden panels. Women captured performing oral sex are arrayed in rows and columns, 24 to a panel. They suck, squint, laugh, and make eyes. Some appear to be praying, others to be melting into the groins of their featureless video companions. Like their real-world counterparts, the women are both strikingly the same and patently different.
Sexually explicit imagery, ranging from menacing to droll to ludicrous, is a staple of Stoic Swine's iconography. A latter-day Heironymous Bosch, he blends carnal, religious, and urban lifestyle imagery to achieve ambiguous work that is at once pleasingly offensive and weirdly beautiful. Back Room Beatitudes is the artist's experiment in drawing from a model (Live Nude Girls!), although the model is a still, 2-D image created by photographing a moving video on an internet porn site.
The drawings are less about pornography than they are portraits of women (amateurs to auteurs to action heroes) participating in porn videos. They are acting, some better than others. The process of making a portrait requires that the subject perform his or her identity, and the performance style, the acting, is influenced by the subject's desired outcome: How will my specific audience see me and how can I influence that? Stoic Swine upends this subject-maker relationship by selecting images of individuals frozen in time while performing for a specific audience—an audience that anticipates visceral, enthusiastic money shots—and replacing that audience with himself. Acting as both director and spectator, he documents and distorts his subjects in ink, a process as intimate and solitary as simply watching porn. The artwork, the grid of portraits rendered in fine, repetitive lines, is the evidence of this performance.
Arranged in a grid, the portraits are like the option menu on an internet pornography site, the video stills designed to enticed paid viewing. The first register you look at, as with the first blue video you chose to sample, is arbitrary. Scan until you find what you're looking for.
Abigail Guay, Seattle