June 26, 2008

bathouses by Kozyra

photos by Katarzyna Kozyra.

These were filmed by cameras hidden in plastic bags, under the benches without the knowledge of the participants. The artist wanted to study the public versus the private behavior in men and women (using different bathouses). One of her conclusions was that women interacted more often with each other in this private space looking for conmpanionship while men went there only to look at themself and others, and almost not interacting with other men.


  1. ok, great --> but aren't we getting a bit bored of being filmed in/confined to hidden spaces? isn't that the "essence" of woman, her "true interior," her nature, her place? but of course women "interact better" in private spaces -- that's where we've always been placed! that's where we're best kept, in the interstices of public consciousness.

    and of course women are "looking for companionship" while men are "competing in their physique" -- i mean what's new?

    do we really need to get into plastic bags and underneath benches to discover this?

  2. I think if we look beyond "being filmed in private spaces" issue, we can see that what Kozyra is trying to experiment is playing with gender and being in situations were she is not part of naturally, for example when she infiltrates into a men bathouse, disguised ( see photo in the prior blog). We can also see her confrontation of conventional standards of beauty, when she exposes natural bodies. Maybe we should look at her art as a whole and see how interestingly she blurs the differences between the feminine and the masculine.

  3. Shushan,
    I apologize for using the term "essentialist". I did not mean to label anyone. One thing that surprised me though, was the mere reaction from the photo.

    Kozyra's ethical stance of filming people without their knowledge might be problematic, especially if we view the body as a private property of the radically individualized subject. But I think there is a difference between 19th century bathhouse paintings done by male artists and Kozyra's practices. First and foremost, it is not so much the gendered gaze of the artist as both a subject and observer which has been historically denied to women as the fact that Kozyra has the baggage of the 19th century painters as a historical experience in art and in gender relations behind her. Moreover, in her videos the bodies are not pacified for the gaze as mere objects of desire but these are radically eroticized bodies which are also subjects of desire... And lastly, there is the factor of danger of being caught while in disguise and the possibility of punishment of "undoing one's gender".

    Coming back to my surprise with the reaction of many wow members. I always wanted to safeguard us from falling into the exclusivist and often rage-driven trap of identity politics which presents one group with its coherent identity as opposed to another - be in white hetero male, white homosexual male, black or latino male, etc, white hetero women, black, latino, etc...hetero women, lesbians, queer, etc...This is ultimately a struggle for recognition...of recognition within the already existing repressive power structures.

    Finally, I do believe that desire is more fluid than a specific fixation with the biological appearance of the genitalia would allow. I very much like Schiller's term, which Freud also used referring to fluid sexuality (specifically of the newly constituted subject - children)- polymorphous perversity. The penis does not become the signifier of phallic authority unless we make it so - both through constant affirmative reiterations and negation....

    I apologize for writing in English. I will translate it and send it again..


  4. :-) shat urax em vor nman (misht indz huzogh) hartserin enk anradarnum. yes hpart em essentsialist barits -- indz ain miangamayn chi neghum. indz hamar karevor e hishel, imanal u krknel te inchu e im essentsian ain inch vor e: popoxakan u misht hetevoghakan ir popoxman mej. havatum em evolutsion essence-i mej, kollektiv essence-i mej, imitatsion essence-i mej --- bazmessentsializmin.

    iharke, yerb arajin angam nayetsi kozyrai "sexy boys" ashxatankin -- ch'nkatetsi vor nrank bolorn el tsutsadrum ein irents (voch "bnakan" arnandamnere) ail tsaghkanman "poxhagnvats" klitornere -- mi xoskov` kozyran nrants tsuyts e talis nor kataroghakan akti mej -- bayts nrank bemakanatsvats en, irakan bemum en -- voch "camera obscurai" mijotsov, ail ditavoryal lenzi/gaze mijotsov, vortegh tghanere sharvats en vorpes objectner, bayts nrank nuynpes veradartsnum en gaze-e, nrank hamadzain en hagnelun irents geghetsik tsaghkanman klitornere, minch baghniki kanayq shahagortsvats en, angitaktsabar -- u tsitsagheli e vor nrank "naturalistakan" en, vor menk enk voroshum te vorn e nrants "natural" teghe, dzeve, marmine, bnuyte (vortegh es tesnum "gitaktsvats tsankutyun" ays paragayum?) -- che vor de beauvoir-n asum er (um hamar er asum?)-- "man seeks in woman the Other as Nature" kam "her body is not perceived as the radiation of a subjective personality, but as a thing sunk deeply in its own immanence." (chapter on dreams, fears and idols)

    > Kanayk kam tghamardik nerkayatsvats chen
    > vorpes hayatsqi hamar patrasti sparman objectner, ayl naev
    > irents erotikatsvats, isk hachax naev
    > "naturalistakan" marminnerov irenk en tsankacogh subjectner.

    ardyok "surveillance" da voyeurism che, ardyok "bnakan e" yerb tsareri hetevits takun hetevum enk u nkarahanum ("v mire zhivotnyx" kam "discovery channel"i hamar) geghetsik endzughtneri varkn-u-barke nrants "bnakan" kam "naturalistakan" mijavayrum, vorpes hetakrkir MEZ HAMAR, mer gaze-i hamar? inchov e tarbervum baghnikum, takun, atorneri takits kanants nkarahanelu motifikatsume? vortegh es tesnum "tsankatsogh subjectner"? your theories are good, but for me they don't apply to this particular case.