Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Vagina, and the Womb :Female Procreative Spaces as Metaphysical Symbols: Classical Forms and their Contemporary Adaptations:Mark Dunn's Blaspehmous Aesthetic

A  central  iconographic strategy of the Goetic magician and artist Mark Dunn is that of re imagining familiar images in unfamiliar contexts. In doing this,he creates associations between cultural forms that are conventionally disparate. This juxtaposition of disparate iconographic forms at times leads to what could be described as blasphemy,if blasphemy is understood as a style of relating with a revered or particularly a sacred cultural form in a manner that demonstrates disrespect for the value or sacrality associated with the form. One of Mark Dunn's most markedly blasphemous images is that of a nun with her legs raised to reveal her anal passage and bare vagina,as she sits wearing her nun's habit against the background of images  of  the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child and the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis nursing  a child. The iconographic density of the background of the image,filled as it is with other semantically suggestive figures besides that of the Virgin and Isis,along with an intricate,elegantly inscribed quasi-geomatric symbol,suggests that the image goes beyond its erotic,even pornographic explicitness to encompass an individualistic,even idiosyncratic symbolic universe.

The outlines of this symbolic universe and an entry into Dunn's erotic cosmography begin to emerge in his description of the passages  delicately if wantonly revealed between the nun's legs as being the gateway to an immense cathedral,which also functions as both a university and a bordello,within which can be found female members of this establishment,who are both whores and teachers of the arts of movement between dimensions.Dunn's own words comunicate the force of his imaginative world most vividly.The nun is understood as:

a strong and powerful duchess [who] appears in the form of a most sensual and beautiful young woman dressed in[ the] most revealing and sexually provocative black leather skeletal bodice of a nun's habit. Upon her back one [sees] the leathery black wings of a bat. She will also be seen with a horned duchess's crown tied about her lithe waist, and... riding on a great reptilian albino camel with a long serpentine neck, from out of a vaginal gateway that[ is] the doorway into a great beehive of an obsidian gothic cathedral.

The cathedral is that of a labyrinthine library of sorcery and magick [ and] a hidden university as well as...a bordello of seductive neophyte witch [es] teaching the arcane arts of the Crucified-Serpent that are dressed as goth 'Night-Gaunt' nuns upon whose backs are to be seen the wings of bats.

The office of Gamari is to tell of all things past, present and to come wherefore she or her sisters will carry one within one's visions or dreams on a flight through the labyrinthine vaginal barrelled hallways of the cathedral into a myriad womb rooms pertaining to different time periods and worlds. 

She will also tell of hidden ancient arcane books upon the occult arts and of magical treasures...reveal[ing where] they lie in; and to procure the sexual love of beautiful women but especially that of maidens. She governs 26 Legions of female spirits whom appear likened unto herself.

On what account does Dunn depict the beautiful and wantonly displayed nun as opening her lower orifices  to reveal an  entrance to such an incongruously conceived location and center of a truly arcane combination of forms of knowledge? The image of the beautiful nun is described as a facade for something less readily adapted to conventional human culture but which  the artist describes as being appreciable  through imagining it as the  beautiful,wantonly self exhibiting nun,something capable of enabling the kind of knowledge that Dunn describes as being facilitated by the whore priestesses in the cathedral university reached through the nun's legs. The image of the nun is Dunn's visualization of Gamari, one of the spirits of the medieval grimoire,work of invoking spirits,the Goetia.Dunn chooses to re-imagine what is often a list of  male figures in the original text in terms of nubile women of various ages,all conceived in relation to their sexuality,as in the case of the equation of Gamari with the self displaying  nun.The traditional text describes Gamari in the following way:

The Fifty-sixth Spirit is Gremory, or Gamori. He is a Duke Strong and Powerful, and appeareth in the Form of a Beautiful Woman, with a Duchess's Crown tied about her waist, and riding on a Great Camel. His Office is to tell of all Things Past, Present, and to Come; and of Treasures Hid, and what they lie in; and to procure the Love of Women both Young and Old. He governeth 26 Legions of Spirits...
In depicting Gamarin as a nun who displays her genitals,Dunn correlates a critique of the religion the nun represents,Christianity,with a complex attitude towards femininity and female sexuality emergent in his work,one which combines elements of the feminine centred spirituality of Buddhism and Hinduism with sadomasochism and demonology. In correlating a Christian image with such cultural forms he blasphemes against Christianity,using images which are  valoristic in other religious traditions,such as Tantra,which,in its Hindu and Buddhist forms,depicts female genitalia in open display, not as examples of obscenity but as expressions of the sacred symbolism ascribed to female genitalia. The female genitalia also have sacred significance in the magical streams of Western magic that also influence Dunn,from the sex magic of Aleister Crowley,whom his work seems to both admire and critique,to the  female spirituality of Wicca and the erotic magical art of Austin Osman Spare. Dunn correlates all these influences with what looks  like strong elements of the sadomasochistic.

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