A Collection of Tangles: awkward sex stories

A Collection of Tangles
We’re collecting awkward sex stories via audio recordings. They will exist in a couple of forms for now. The stories will be archived on the Tumblr site (in audio format).  There will also be a one-night-only show/reception in a hotel room in Iowa City the 4th week in April.  The audio recordings will be played through small speakers inside pillows on a hotel room bed. To submit stories, people just audio record their story(ies) through their own computer via a link on the Tumblr site. Super simple. 
Submit your stories by Thursday April 17th. Here’s the link to the Tumblr site which gives a little info and the instructions for submission:
A Collection of Tangles is a celebration of awkwardness in sex, and removal of potential layers of shame. Our inspiration for the project comes from Lauren Berlant’s Keynote speech she gave at the Affect and Inquiry symposium in Iowa City on March 29th, “Sex in the event of happiness.” She discussed jokes as being the most intimate genre, both “delivering and denying intimacy,” as a social reciprocity. She discussed jokes and awkwardness in relation to sex and our society’s erotophobia, as a way to overcome shame. The site of embraced awkwardness is a place of reclamation, love, laughter and enjoyment. A way to remove shame, to connect with our humanness. Stories do the same, and so this seems a fitting way to embody some of the ideas in her talk. Some of the words we wrote down during her talk included, “kinship, care, reparativity, memory, hope, longing, aesthetics” in relation to the intimacy project. We hope this show will bring those words to life as a way to combat erotophobia.
We would love your participation in some form-spread the word about the project, record a story for the project, or show up to the art show to lay around, listen, and celebrate with us.
Thank you!

Reparativity and Shitstorms

We were going to talk about this more at the end of the symposium, but didn’t quite get back to it directly. Towards the close of Lauren Berlant’s keynote talk, she said she, “wants reparativity to look bruised too.” I think it almost always does look and feel that way somewhere along the unending process. Since the symposium, I’ve been thinking about reparativity and shitstorms in conjunction with networks of communities, artwork, awkwardness, bodies, sex, shame, as well as collective spectatorship and participation in aesthetics. And I’ve been sleeping.


On Saturday afternoon, Cristina Albu’s talk entitled, “One of An Exposed Crowd: Mirror Affect in Contemporary Art,” focused on public modes of spectatorship, in relation to several art pieces that use mirrors to “render viewers conscious.” She discussed works by Olafur Elliason, Joan Jones, Dan Graham, and Ken Lum. The mirror acts as a binder, a literal reflection, of the crowd. It is a forced self-disclosure of each member of the viewing crowd. In this way, the viewers’ bodies activate the piece, becomes part of the aesthetic, and through that viewing, as well as internal and external dialogue, the affective experience of the collective viewer becomes the art. These experiential artworks are of interest to me as an artist that frequently engages the audience in a participatory way in my art practice and projects. Either in the making or the viewing, or both. I frequently think of this collective spectatorship and participation in aesthetics as a both a metaphor and collective action towards reparativity of our pummeled souls. Especially through modes of storytelling. I also frequently speak with friends of them being mirrors of and for me, and I appreciated Albu’s nuanced look at artwork that incorporates actual mirrors as a way to name this collective connectivity, even though it may be a forced one at the beginning of the experience.


Also that afternoon, Michaela Frischherz spoke on, “Vaginal Visibilities: Shame and the Possibility of Affective Agency,” through her look at the online “Large Labia Project.” This website is a way for collective spectatorship and participation to happen with our corporeal bodies, visually next to each other in photographs, but not physically present with one another. But even more than viewing liberations from bodily shame and awkwardness, these online collections of difference and similarity give way to feelings of connectivity, which can be just as strong or stronger as physical closeness or proximity in a gallery with a work of art and other viewers.


These forms, both in person and online, are ways to bring about reparativity, create community, embrace awkwardness, pleasure, and openness as a courageous way to overcome shame and the erotophobia that plagues our society, which Berlant spoke of later in the day. So what about shitstorms? I will just close with saying that in digging in, opening, committing, and exposing oneself to be connected to each other and networks of communities, there is going to be bruising, cutting, spitting, inconveniencing, and other various shitstorms along the way. Sometimes, along with the laughter, care, love, and generosity, working through those shitstorms in a committed way is what makes reparativity so meaningful and worth the risk.

-Amanda Murphy