Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Acontortionista Manifesto

Published June, 2011
44 pages, 6.5 x 9 inches soft bound, two colors

This book was mailed free of charge to me by the enigmatic Portuguese publisher MMMNNNRRRGGG.  I was immediately drawn to its effective use of artistic sensibilities that referenced ancient Greek imagery in an Art Deco/Nouveau context; probably Aubrey Beardsley.  There is however a modernist simplification of those styles, the hatching and meticulous rendering are traded for minimalist washes of pink and careful line work, which evoke at times Japanese Ukiyo-e or the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein.  The group responsible for this book is a collective going by the name of "Empirio."  One of their members is photographed here.  (Hey, good lookin'.)

 That visual style, old and new, tasteful and reductive, is a good way to describe the content of this book, which is indeed a manifesto, a documentation of a group's beliefs and ideals.  In 2012 it's quite absurd to write a manifesto, especially in a world in which dubstep exists, but there's something charming about a group which decides to stick it out against the wave of progress.  Since their stylistic choices speak of nothing past 1980, they are indeed artists who have strong ties to tradition.  That European sincerity can be refreshing.  The contents of the Manifesto are actually quite progressive, innovative,  and relevant, and could be defined as a new development on feminism. The institution of marriage as we know it is filled with gender inequalities and the denial of human nature which is to seek new partners throughout life leads to overall repression and sexual frustration.  The view of sex as a taboo is also a result of the oppressive power system in which marriage is viewed and reinforced as the only acceptable relationship.  I believe that discussion of sex in the philosophical realm is deemed "immoral" and "perverse" as a way to perpetuate a system in which men earn money, secure a wife, and trap them in a relationship that they can't afford to escape from.

Though the manifesto discusses sexuality as its main focus, it does not often go into any graphic depiction either visually or in wording.  Most of the book appears neutral; so this work is genuinely philosophical while being sexually oriented.  Of course their are a few explicit images but the majority of the illustrations feature empty rooms and scenery.  Its main points are to seek out sex as an abstract concept and to undermine the limitations imposed by mainstream society.  The unhealthy conventions such as gender identity, marriage, and gender inequality are questioned here.  Sex is also viewed as a liberating, spiritual experience rather than a biological or soulless act.