Mark McCloughan – Guest Curation, May 2016

Mark McCloughan is an artist and writer living in New York City. He is a founding member of No Face Performance Group and has contributed to and performed in all of the collective’s original works. The group’s current project, Abbot Adam, is a body of work that uses the lens of medieval monasticism to examine ideas about purity, devotion, desire, and control. The group’s work has been presented by venues in New York and Philadelphia, including JACK, CATCH series, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Vox Populi, and FringeArts, among others. Mark is the author of No Harbor (L + S Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in Lines and Stars and American Poetry Review.

 


#1
Tonetta – Pressure Zone

Tonetta’s channel is really an amazing body of work: every video consists of only Tonetta, in various costumes and states of undress, standing in front of a backdrop, lip-synching (poorly) or pantomiming along to an original song. Almost all of them are explicitly sexual and unabashedly queer. These videos are driven by something both raunchy and pure, and I find that combination deeply endearing. I especially like the tension between the amateurish production values of each video and their remarkable aesthetic consistency when viewed in series.


#2
CHRISTEENE – African Mayonnaise

Speaking of unabashedly queer, here’s CHRISTEENE. She’s one of my absolute favorite live performers, and her videos are a great way to get to know her. Moving from early, more home-spun material (“Fix my Dick”) to slickly-produced spectacle (“Big Shot”), they show an artist honing a character until it’s razor-sharp. While it’s hard to pick a favorite CHRISTEENE video, I think this one comes closest to capturing the anarchic nature of her live shows. It also highlights the confrontational queer presence that makes the project a really strong political statement as well as an aesthetic one.

I will never forget the first time I saw CHRISTEENE perform live. She emerged onto the stage, followed by a bunch of balloons. As she strode back and forth, greeting the crowd by spitting on them, they balloons trailed her every move. As her thumping intro music began to build, she bent over and revealed that the balloons were attached to a butt plug that was inserted into her ass. She then pulled it out and bit through the balloon strings, freeing them to float up to the low ceiling and leaving a little tail attached to the plug. She held onto this and began spinning it around over her head, and as the music reached a climax, she threw it into the crowd, where it landed directly in my open hand. It felt like a talisman, and to this day retains a place of pride amongst my possessions.


#3
Kim Cattrall talks about hubby Mark

A perfect jewel of pop culture detritus. I watch this and laugh out loud every single time.


#4
Stevie Nicks – Wild Heart – Live Demo – 1981

I hear the name Stevie Nicks and think immediately of this video. The studio version, released in 1983, is more complicated, and, I think, much worse off for it. This is basically just Stevie singing the chorus, over and over, during a makeup session before a photo shoot. It has the most perfect casual beauty: a gentle wind coming from somewhere that makes her hair move ever so slightly, the way that she’s singing to the people she’s with, rather than for them, and of course, the simple harmony of the song, which I could listen to on repeat for hours (and believe me, I have).


#5
1987 Calvin Klein’s Obsession Commercial – Perfume Cologne

There are so many things to love about this ad. The painfully 80s set design, The queasy, fevered tone of the copy, the breakneck speed at which every action has to happen in order to fit into the allotted time. In this context, the line “In the kingdom of passion the ruler (brief dramatic pause) is obsession” hits like a masterfully spoken Shakespeare soliloquy. I have a dream in which I do a Ragnar Kjartansson-style durational reenactment of this spot, looping it over and over again for 12 hours.