Bruce LaBruce “Obscenity”

The Hole

poster for Bruce LaBruce “Obscenity”

This event has ended.

The Hole presents an exhibition in Gallery 3 by infamous Canadian artist and filmmaker Bruce LaBruce that will include the debut of his fragrance, Obscenity. In an exhibition of photography examining sexual and religious ecstasy as well as the unveiling of his fragrance, this will be his first solo gallery exhibition in America since 2010’s “Untitled Hardcore Zombie Project” at Peres Projects, Los Angeles.

In LaBruce’s own words:
Obscene (adj.) 1590s, “offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement,” from Middle French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus “offensive,” especially to modesty, originally “boding ill, inauspicious,” of unknown origin; perhaps from ob “onto” (see ob-) + caenum “filth.”

What is obscenity? For me, the word may have a different connotation than the one affixed to it by genteel society. Over the years, when my films and photographs have been returned to me after exhibitions in international festivals or galleries, Canadian customs officials have frequently seized the works at the border and sent me a notification in their stead with the word OBSCENITY writ large, an X luridly slashed in a box beside it. To me, it has become a badge of honour. For one man’s obscenity is another man’s art. Or romance. Or sensibility. Or scent.

Staring at OBSCENITY, eventually I came to realize that the word SCENT is contained with in it. And thus came the first inspiration to develop a fragrance of the same name. A fragrance in flagrant disregard of the pejorative insinuation attributed to the word. In flagrante delicto: caught in the very act of committing a misdeed or offense. In fragrance delicto!

Exhibiting a collection of my photographs in Madrid 2012 at La Fresh Gallery–photographs that examined the delicate intersection between religious and sexual ecstasy–I first recuperated the word Obscenity as something sensual, erotic, and beyond the judgment of society or religion. Against storms of protest, the word for me transgressed its etymological origin as something offensive or filthy and became something transcendent: something mysterious, martyred, and carnal. Carnal knowledge is power.

What does obscenity smell like? To explore this question, I had to consult an expert. Enter Kim Weisswange, perfumer extraordinaire. Meeting the formidable woman in the flesh in Hamburg, I explained to her my history with obscenity, and the feelings the word invokes in me. The synthesis of the religious or the spiritual and the sexual is a potent one, and requires a potent fragrance. I left this special olfactory alchemy to the expert.

What does obscenity look like? For the bottle cap and design, I collaborated with my favourite jewelry designer, Jonathan Johnson, who had already made an Obscenity ring for me in conjunction with my photo exhibition. Mr. Johnson has an uncanny way of interpreting sexual and religious imagery to make them seem interchangeable, one and the same. Far from blasphemy, the “nun-sploitation” cap, mapped from a 3-D scan of the curvaceous body of his fiancé and muse Katja-Inga Baldowski, then perched on the hostia, the holy wafer placed lovingly on a tongue, is intended as a sincere tribute to the sensual throes of ecstasy that cause you to throw your head back and fix your gaze toward heaven, a gesture generally reserved for fervid prayer or orgasm.

This is the essence of Obscenity.



from July 10, 2014 to August 23, 2014

Opening Reception on 2014-07-10 from 18:00 to 21:00


Bruce LaBruce

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