5 November 2020
This is a joint, partial reaction to your Metropolis magazine text and your Pie Bible text, which I’m sure you know read so well together. Your emphasis on the anus and shit on both made me wanna think of my relationship to my rectum. Reading you say that [anal] sex is ‘something [you] don’t have under control at all’ makes me think about my poor relationship with my anus. As someone who has been a control freak most of his life, I suspect that the reason why my relationship with my anus is so pitiful is because I have, consciously or not, marginalised my anus as something rebellious and beyond my control. I have been a vers, mainly a top, most of my life, and my sexuality has revolved—and still does—mainly around my dick. And I cannot just blame Freud or heteropatriarchy for this. The fact that my anus resists to be mastered, as much as I can master and control my penis, has to do with all this. I am more aware of this thanks to you. You are, indeed, a sexual intellectual :)
In a previous letter I think I had already referred to my adult life as a process of loosening up myself, of being less rational and of offering my body and how I feel a greater role in all levels of my existence. Including sex. My sexual life is messy as yours—in a different manner, but still messy. My sex life could be certainly richer and I could enjoy more from it. For a long time I have not given myself permission to explore my anus—alone and with others—in all its glory and to accept this receptacle of pleasure and relationship with the world in all its disorder and impossibility of control. I am now determined to reorientate my sexual self-attention more behind and inside, embracing my anus with more joy, less guilt, and less mastery.
This week I am in Azala with my friend and artist Pablo Marte in a joint residence (which is why I didn’t write to you again over the weekend, I needed to pack!). Azala (which means skin, or surface in Basque) is an art residency space and rural accommodation in the middle of the countryside run by dancer and choreographer Idoia Zabaleta. It is part of a small village in the Álava region, called Lasierra, made up of literally four or five houses. It is a self-organised community where, for instance, neighbours have recently started their own solar energy supply system, which will allow them to operate autonomously away from large electricity companies. Pablo is here developing a writing project titled ‘Life and love of images’ and he invited me to join him for a week without further pretence other than spending time together, cooking and walking around the amazing forests and fields surrounding the place (attached is a pic of my morning views today). Yesterday we made an excursion to a protected cave, which in spring functions as a bat burrow but is open to visitors at this time. It is a long and dark cave that leads to a final room that one can only access by crawling through a narrow passage. The cave belongs to the municipality of ‘Tuyo’, which in Spanish means ‘yours’. Pablo has baptised this narrow passage of the cave as ‘El ano tuyo’ (‘Your anus’), in a kind of transference between the rite of traversing the cave and the experience of exploring one’s rectum. Leo Bersani wouldn’t be bored with us.
In a separate email I will now send you the series of photos that Pablo made of my implementation of this transference. The series is dedicated to you :)
More these days.
Photo documentation of my anal-cave rite of passage which I now dedicate to you.
A new letter, with a rather different tone and content, is in the works. Will arrive to you soon.
5 November 2020
Photographic sequence of Aimar crossing a passage in the Tuyo cave, in the Basque region of Alava and a photograph of the views from the village of La Sierra, in the same Basque region. Images from the cave: Pablo Marte.
15 November 2020
Thank you so much for this beautiful email and these stunning and very interesting photos. The attached landscape and your ‘cave’ anal rite of passage series of six!
I had the Mondriaan Foundation committee meeting that I mentioned to you a week or so ago. For the first time ever since I work for them, in this four hour video meeting with six of us including me, one application of an older artist was refused which I did not agree with. The other three committee members were all against it and I could not convince them no matter how hard I tried. This application was for 38.000,00 euros spread out over a four year period, and this was particularly painful and sad for me because I think this person could have really used the money, and put the money to good use. There is a strict code of silence around these meetings, which I agree with, so I cannot go into any detail at all except to say that this was someone after my own heart in art.
We cannot help everyone that we want to help, and sometimes the people that need the help most are the hardest to reach. Part of being a sexual intellectual for me, is melting my heart with my lustful passion for life. I imagine sex as a communing with a higher energy. Adrian Piper has now received our invitation to go into dialogue about archiving and any related subjects that come up and one of her assistants replied and declined our invitation, we are not even sure if Adrian received our letter of invitation. That story may still be open. Adrian is as you may know a practicing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmacarya so is celibate and abstinent and thinks (I gather from her reading) that people run around putting far too much energy in physical sex with each other. This is one of my only or main criticisms of Adrian as much as I love her (she is only human), that she is pretty hard and unbending with people’s inabilities to be like her—she is a ‘swashbuckler’ cutting through bullshit and pushing herself like an ox to work till her fingers bleed. I do this too, I must insist, in my way, but she has been several times critical of me and implied that I was lazy and making excuses, which I do not and am not. In my opinion. Everyone has their faults. Adrian tried to hook me up workwise with the gay male curator Frank Wagner whom I had had dealings with and found one of the most unpleasnt people I have ever met. He’s dead now and was a braggart (constantly spouting off about all the famous people / men he’d slept with and known, saying that Felix Gonzalez-Torres was a complainer, etc. really unpleasant guy and German in the worst way—yes I am making a generalization about these schizophrenic Germans with their Hitler war past which they have the luxury of denying and not doing penance for which screws them up into flighty creatures with very hot tempers to overcompensate for their deep guilt, I adore slinging mud if you haven’t noticed already :). Adrian was friends with Frank and thought he could help my ‘career’. In fact our archiving and her tips to me were partly a result of her trying to get me into shape to impress this asshole. God he was truly awful, unbearable and arrogant and stiff as a board… truly everything the art world is over full of anyway… So Adrian’s judgement of character is maybe not the best sometimes, but I don’t blame her for it. We all have our faults, even her. Which reminds me again of Hamja Ahsan and his book ‘Shy Radicals’ about radical introverts. I have decided that whether a person is introvert or extrovert or any kind of combination is irrelevant to me, because even introverted people can be mean and nasty and stingy with their time and resources. I wonder if I will ever be famous enough to refuse to answer people’s emails personally and in-depth, I really cannot imagine.
Aimar, what I want is MONEY. A lot. And consistently. I have decided that by the age of 46, having worked like a mule for 24 years after leaving school and amassing a huge oeuvre already, that I deserve a consistent source of income one way or another, perhaps as a sexual intellectual who goes on television or internet platforms and speaks about all and sundry and gets paid well for it. I could also make live horse drawing demonstrations! One way or another I am going to get lots of money and then share as much as I possibly can with other artists and people that deserve help and need help. I bought a vulva necklace in gold plate from an artist named Denise Rosenboom last week and I truly adore it. It’s so gorgeous and I wear it every day with pride. I have always had a strong relationship to the vulva and vagina and clitoris, when I was 18 with my good friend Stacey I performed cunnilingus and I loved the taste and experience of the cunt but realized that it just did not turn me on. I asked Stacey what would happen if I touched / caressed here, or there, and licked here. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. And then I had a Spanish girlfriend named Andrea whom I also had cunnilingus with and we even tried penetrative sex but I could not keep hard and could not figure out how to do anything. We had a good laugh about it, she and I, I don’t even fuck men, or have verrry rarely. I can still remember Andrea and me in the moonlight under Kansas skies in the back of my Honda Accord which was silver and I painted it with an ex-boyfriend or fuck partner called Trevor Adams who was an artist and probably still is. He was the first person who ever fucked me, which I talk about in the Pie Bible text. Have you already seen this performance of Robin and me? Before I give the links I have to complete the Andrea story, as we lay in the moonlight pouring in through the car windows parked up in the rolling hills of Kansas outside of Topeka, probably close to Lawrence, and I was sitting or kind of laying in Andrea’s lap as she laughed about our sexual tryouts and the moon shone in the car. I can still see the image of us together as if I was looking from above… vimeo.com/76554267 I would so love it if you would watch this performance that Robin and I did in 2008 as an homage to Annie Sprinkle and her Public Cervix Announcement and Carolee Schneemann and her Interior Scroll both artists were in the audience… here is the full unedited version: vimeo.com/76554268 and my favorite video I ever made: vimeo.com/246861346 and my second favorite: vimeo.com/246861346
A silver strand trailed off into the darkness like a swimming spermatozoa…
I so love how you write to me Aimar. I would NEVER go through such a narrow cave entrance as what you show here. It would terrify me. I would be afraid that I would never get out. Not a vagina dentata but a cave dentata… I think control of one’s body and how one uses it is a lifelong sculpting process. Feeling in harmony with something bigger than just our mortal condition is the point, and that’s why one reason why I feel so close to Adrian even if she’ll never get it or I will never be as famous or revered as her in my lifetime or perhaps ever. I know what I’ve got and why things mean something to me the way they do. My work about sex is all painting, all one big gestural stroke, like Carolee used to describe her work, there is a beautiful little clip of her speaking about painting from 1993, my favorite art year save 2009—my coming of age as I talk about in the Metropolis M text. I will include the video here for you and for us. The video is up to the 3:26 mark, and then the second half is four recent installations from that mid-career period…
I think I’ve spilled my seed, as they say, I have had a textual orgasm here akin to what I imagine female orgasm to be like, which I will never know………shimmering and stretching far out to the horizon, the whole body dissolving in silver light.
By the way, I don’t personally think life revolving a dick is a negative thing. I have fallen in love with four penises in particular that I can remember. Deeply—deep love. Three were attached to men I could barely communicate with outside of sex, and the fourth or first as it may be is ROBIN’S which has that dimensionality of being attached to a person that I love more than any other and can talk to infinitely like a waterfall into the depths of eternity. Even the ones I couldn’t communicate with except for that specific member hanging or standing between their legs were still worth it, a relationship with a dick is better than no relationship at all…
Sending you a big corona-proof hug!
Carolee Schneemann, ‘Imaging Her Erotics and Four Recent Installations’ (Copyright Vesper Video 1993). Produced and directed by Maria Beatty with editorial assistance from CS and Ellen Cantor. 9 minutes and 22 seconds.
24 November 2020
(email to Aimar and Megan)
I have just returned from yet another visit to the hairdresser / barber, seems like I am always getting my hair cut but really it’s every 5 weeks (about). Today was especially exciting because I brought along one of my wigs, ’Strawberry Shortcake’ or ’Straw’ for short, to ask meekly if one of my hairdressers could cut the bangs for me and give it a bit more shape. I wore this wig to our first process event #1 in March this year, and it was a bit shapeless, I felt, all over the place. I am so thrilled now because my hairdresser did a gorgeous job in 10 minutes on the wig, and didn’t want any extra money for it (I gave it anyway). Whenever I have one of my four wigs on I feel like it’s my alter ego, so it feels directly like performative work. Staring into the huge mirror in the hairsalon made me feel very glamorous and now quite tired, like I just appeared in public with my fake hair, always a performance anyway. There were very few questions as to what it was for… (the wig, when I wore it, etc.)…I was already a bit tired, so now taking it really easy.
Megan, I will check to see if there is correspondence from October, I think you have everything, we may have been sending physical letters or time got away from us or we had written so much that we needed some digestion time. I will check later today.
All you write sounds perfect to me: launch dates, finishing the project, Hamja links, and I am so excited about Aimar’s wanting to involve me in his project on queer form, I have a lot to say on that subject. Seems like my whole life is a ‘queer form’.
Soooooo looking forward to meeting up tomorrow. 14.30 if I remember correctly. I will be there with bells on :)
Robin thinks my new haircut looks like a sixteen-year old’s cut with a clear line between shorter hair on the sides and longer up on top. I will show you both tomorrow to get your opinions!
I like it / the haircut. I am a punky person at heart and a bit of wackiness suits me fine.
Okay I think this answers everything for now. Thanks so much for the Zoom link Megan. Have brilliant days you two and till very soon!
25 November 2020
Hello you two,
Thank you Megan for the update and the suggestion of topics to be covered today. We can certainly move around those points.
The proposed general timing seems good—and feasible—to me. Having a timing will help me get back to a certain rhythm in this closing phase, of transition to something else—exciting!
Probably no correspondence in October, that is right. It was a month for digestion. But I do have a physical letter accompanied by lovely little gifts from Sands on September 20, which I must scan and get to Megan to complete the batch. I can do it tomorrow.
Sands: I’m afraid I beat you on the hairdressing issue; I visit my Moroccan barber about every ten days to refresh my look :)
See you and talk to you in about two and a half hours.
25 November 2020
(email to Aimar and Megan, 5pm. Subject line: carolee’s quote about me at 19 years old that she said in the year 2000, i will incorporate this in an email to Aimar, it’s about queer space / form too)
« That’s what I was recognizing when he was my student. He was all about spillage and seepage and everyone was trying to get him back in the quadrant and I thought that it was just perfect. Let him spill and seep and envelop and overcome space. »
Here is the full “Double Trouble” catalog text by Kathleen Wentrack, an art historian in NYC: http://www.artperformance.org/article-double-trouble-carolee-schneemann-and-sands-murray-wassink-by-kathleen-wentrak-62527171.html
28 November 2020
Sands, it is a beautiful quote and all about queer form, or overcoming a set of over-imposed forms which is a queer act itself.
I don’t collect perfumes, neither have I expensive vices other than my love for printed matter, so I just spent 50 euros on the only copy of the book available at Abebooks, which will arrive to me in about two weeks. I cannot wait and hopefully Sands, you can dedicate it to me one day.
I think this brief exchange here is worthy of publication in the Studio :)
28 November 2020
Dear Sands, Megan,
As promised, attached are my scans of the contents of the physical letter I received from Sands on September 28th. I have finally chosen to use my fringed scarf as a backdrop. I had fun.
My choice of backdrop is a celebration of ‘all our loose ends’ and to the Spanish expression “tener flecos”, which in English could be translated as “to have fringes”, and which is used to express that an issue, work or negotiation has details or aspects to be resolved. I love this expression in its mix of cheap fashion and top management and I use it a lot lately, when due to work overload and multitasking I feel I’m unable to put things to an end.
I often feel that our exchanges have fringes too, in their incompleteness, which is the way it is and it’s beautiful and something to be celebrated as it reflects the fringy, loose edges of life itself.
Scans of materials sent by Sands to Aimar in September. Scans made by Aimar in late November and sent to Sands and Megan. The background shows a fringed scarf from Aimar signaling the potentiality of loose ends.
28 November 2020
It means THE WORLD to me that you bought yourself a Double Trouble catalog Aimar!!!
They are very rare now and unusual, especially from a linkage of (3rd wave?) gay male / queer male art and second wave feminist art, but really just in an artistic sense without adjectives it’s a strange little book. And yes i will sign it for you in person someday (November next year?).
Just wanted to say this for now. I will copy / paste it along with all you emailed a day or so ago into Word documents for our files. And most importantly, I will respond in more length soon. And respond to these exciting, caring, interesting and super sensitive messages and images you sent.
Did I show you this vulva necklace I bought? It’s gold plated aluminium bronze, and I just tonight ordered a second one with a pearl for clitoris on a gold plated aluminium bronze vulva.
Here is an image of the first one and the website where i bought it: www.pussypendant.com
Two necklaces on Sands’s chest: Top is rhinestone / strass stone and gold chain with an “S” for Sands and the lower necklace is artwork by Denise Rosenboom, www.pussypendant.com, a gold-plated vulva necklace. Sands wears both necklaces daily, with the “S” necklace being permanent and never removed from his body. Image by SMW.