Abstract: In the ‘climax’ of Pipilotti Rist’s 1992 video Pickelporno (Pimple Porno, in English) a crescendo of female moaning accompanies frenetically paced clips of bodies interlaced with footage of an erupting volcano. This sequence was described in a 2012 essay by Amelia Jones as “very funny” in its parodic visualisation of the “heat” of desire. Jones leaves this parenthetical comment unexplained, and continues her reading of Pickelporno as “synaesthesia of vision.” In this article I will interrogate Jones’ statement, drawing on Jones’ own writings as well as humour theory and the first English translation of an artist statement by Rist, to propose that Pickelporno oscillates between two conflicting modes of vision – embodied and distanced – to enact a multi-layered feminist parody: of representation, phallocentric pornography and essentialism. I ask: through the lens of humour, can we discover something in Rist’s connection between nature and sex that moves beyond essentialist reiterations of the ‘feminine’ towards a more self-reflexive, even paradoxical, feminist politic? In doing so, I propose a new extension of Jones’ theory of ‘parafeminism’ that can better explicate the parodic (para)feminist visual politic emerging in Pickelporno.
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