Persistence of desire

Reduction in Fontana means eroticism without any idealization, a base genital sexuality. Just the facts and the elemental drive, which presumably has its own reasons and rhythms. But the following quote gives another perspective:

“The final stage (the stage that is missing from the Mulas photographs) was to gently open the cut using the hand as a blade, a gesture described by a close friend as a ‘caress.’ Only then was the cut ‘taped’ in place from the back with a piece of strong black gauze of the sort used by tailors for interfacing.”

Fontana is performing a sexual act, not having sex, so fantasy is present, thereby an image, thereby representation. Even in Fontana.


At this point we might remember Christian Bonnefoi and some of the members of Support/Surface, who dispensed with the black tape of illusion for an exemplary transparency. Conceptuality, a base eroticism and elimination of form seems to be the most progressive recipe for abstraction post WWII. To answer the question posed at the end of the previous post, desire becomes an intellectual rather than an emotional thing, so instead of the death of desire we should perhaps talk about the death of love. Certainly a loveless eroticism is characteristic of all kinds of post-war art, literature, movies, theatre and music, and continues today in the work of someone like Michel Houellebecq. But the question is whether desire can exist at all without fantasy, image and representation. The Lacanians have evidently decided not, so even though I can claim no adequate knowledge of Lacan, I guess that he was right. Meanwhile, time has proven that much of the work I’m talking about is not as affectless as it once seemed. That certainly applies to Fontana.

Fontana inspects his studio in 1947

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