Critical Trilogy

a critic's millennial journey


Marni Kotak, Pleasure War 2005

Marni crouches on the floor before the urn.  A male member of the brigade feeds her an apple.
She devours it hungrily.  The entire brigade kneels down and starts feeding apples to one another.  Order descends into chaos, the chaos of desire.  The drill is now a bacchanal of pleasure.

The above is an excerpt from Kundalini’s Daughter where Marni Kotak’s Pleasure War has been immortalized in literature.  The work was inspired by our discussions of Inanna, and she called me during her preparation, all upset because she couldn’t find Pomegranates, because they were out of season. I said, “well, use what you have.”  And the apple was perfect!

I realized then that a woman has to go through Eve, and all the patriarchal projections surrounding female desire and the serpent,

before they can reach the authentic feminine power of Ishtar and Inanna.

I knew Marni could do it.  She offers something completely new in performance art: multimedia mythological narratives with deep emotional resonance.  The woman is a wonder.  Not only does she make genius art about the resurrection of the authentic feminine power, she also manages to support herself and her art by teaching and managing the apartment building she owns in Bushwick!

We met six years ago at Brooklyn Fireproof in Williamsburg, after I did my first New York City reading of my novel, Champagne Tango.  The event was curated by David Gibson.  He put me in some good company:  Jeffrey Cyphers Wright and Valery Oisteanu I was doing my first New York City reading of my novel Champagne Tango, which was all too appropriate for the location.

Sitting next to Marni at dinner after the reading, I had a vision of absolute artistic freedom.   I remember her telling me “You can sell the artifacts” after describing a unique art form in which she directly addressed the body, the marketplace and the web as a forum for exploring public and private boundaries.  Talk about Inanna and the Sacred Marriage!  It was like lightening striking!

Suddenly, a new world opened up in which a narrative of the resurrected feminine could break into the collective consciousness without hitting the obstacle of the patriarchal gatekeepers.  So, when she invited me to join her Pleasure Revolution on June 17, 2005 in Williamsburg, I arrived with my reporter’s notebook.

Energy spent, they rise and march out.  Marni leads the procession into the streets of Williamsburg.

“People’s Pleasure Brigade is on the way.”

‘People’s Pleasure Brigade is on the way.”

“I say oh, ah, oh, ah, oh, ah, ay!”

T say oh, ah, oh, ah, oh, ah, ay!”

“People’s Pleasure Brigade is here to stay.”

“People’s Pleasure Brigade is here to stay.”

In recent years, she has been doing “found performances” in which she enacts experiences and feelings from her life. The first series took the form of the pentagram that I reviewed in NY Arts and last summer attended “My Father’s Funeral”at English Kills Gallery with my pen and camera, which clearly had a much broader meaning as the death of the patriarchy.

Jason Robert Bell's portrait of Marni

So when she told me about her new beau,  Jason Robert Bell, I wasn’t surprised to do a search and discover a complete Annunaki connection in his art!

What this reading of his iconography told me is this: he was the perfect partner for Marni!  Here I have found a portrait which reveals his penetrating vision of her power materialized as a headdress of the s warrior/sky goddess with her feathers and blades!!  What I would have given to have had a lover with such vision of my power!!!

Together, I could see them penetrating a post-patriarchal mythology of love.  And indeed, their first video collaboration, “Our Year” (2010) was a courageous start, the credits attributing them with the orgasms!

During my recent visit to Bushwick, I made a sponaneous call to Marni and asked if she could meet me.  While she was dressing, Jason took command of the phone and n sent me on a magikal journey through grey, industrial Bushwick…

Beautiful downtown Bushwick

…to the new Brooklyn Fireproof location, on Ingraham Street, where, directly in front of the cafe, I met the owner, who invited me inside and showed me the brand new multipurpose space.

Brooklyn Fireproof in Bushwick

Then, Jason and Marni showed up.  What an immensely powerful energy… The lovers presiding over the paradigm shift!  I find out only by writing this posting that they already inaugurated the two month old space with their sounds of pleasure.

Jason told me about how they had broken up after meeting last summer and he had a kundalini awakening in the shower which immediately informed him to gte back with this wonderful woman.  A message straight from the Goddess.

As if I didn’t already know this pair of 21st century lovers plan to remake the culture, Jason rammed home the point by placing his new work on the bar.

Jason Robert Bell's "The Bergdorf Goodman Beaver Catalogue, Or The Singularity, 2010"

Jason Robert Bell's "The Bergdorf Goodman Beaver Catalogue, Or The Singularity, 2010"

He then proceeded to demonstrate this pastime of transforming media figures

Jason Robert Bell creating a narrative at Brooklyn Fireproof

into Annunakis.

Jason Robert Bell's prolific pen

The authentic face of the feminine

THE LOVERS: Marni Kotak and Jason Robert Bell outside Brooklyn Fireproof

I caught up with the lovers  again last Saturday at Postmasters where Jason was doing spontaneous live drawings.  Set up with his bear vest and jug of wine in the middle of the gallery, he appeared to be something out of a futuristic primordial film.   In a room full of portraits, he absolutely commanded center stage with the power of his charisma.

Jason Robert Bell creating portraits at Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea

Jason Robert Bell creating portrait with a model at Postmasters Gallery

Jason Robert Bell's portraits hanging on the wall at Postmasters, Saturday May 8, 2010


May 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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