New York

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe was on my review list about three years ago, showing at a crummy alternative space in SoHo. His medium of expression was photography, but all I could see were the frames. I remember one with a Chinese red lacquer frame that continued on and on at regular intervals off the righthand side, the frame repeated as spaced bars painted to simulate the rainbow. The penises and buttocks didn’t seem to the point somehow (once you’ve seen one . . .). I’m not being coy; I’m dead serious. My honest response to Mapplethorpe’s calculated attempt to show the unshowable so that, coerced by his images, I would be forced to speak (write) the unspeakable (unwritable), was to resist the manipulation. (Might this deferral in the long run give more pleasure?) I did speak the unspeakable; I unspoke the provocation by admiring the frames rather than the ostensible “art.”

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