Exhibitions: An Intensely Compelling and Disturbing Show on the Marquis de Sade

Exhibitions: An Intensely Compelling and Disturbing Show on the Marquis de Sade

On a sunny day in Barcelona, amidst the skaters outside the CCCB arts centre, I find myself in a gallery witnessing a provocative performance. A woman pulls a scroll out of her body, leaving me intrigued and curious. Inside, a clip from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s controversial film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom showcases a teenage girl consuming her master’s excrement. This unsettling scene is just a taste of what awaits in the exhibition titled “Sade: Freedom or Evil,” which delves into the influence and reputation of the infamous Marquis de Sade.

The exhibition seeks to challenge the common perceptions of De Sade as a mere pornographer or sensationalist. Co-curators Alyce Mahon and Antonio Monegal aim to shed new light on the French writer and philosopher by exploring his underlying philosophy and critiquing societal institutions.

The exhibition begins with a fascinating reproduction of De Sade’s only known authentic portrait, juxtaposed with Joan Fontcuberta’s collage comprising thousands of Google image search results related to “Sade.” This artwork offers a contemporary perspective on De Sade’s controversial legacy, with unexpected appearances of celebrities like the Smooth Operator singer among explicit images.

De Sade’s writings were more than just explicit tales; they embodied his overarching philosophy that the fulfillment of desires, whether sexual or otherwise, represents the ultimate expression of human freedom. He scrutinized and satirized various institutions such as the church, state, and family, exposing their hypocritical nature. This emphasis on freedom and expression resonates even in today’s world, making “Sade: Freedom or Evil” not only a historical exhibition but a relevant and thought-provoking one.

The exhibition’s first section focuses on the distribution and original presentation of De Sade’s works. Displayed are first editions and engravings of his works, including a captivating illustration by Leonor Fini from a 1944 edition of Juliette. Surrealists like Fini revered De Sade, and this exhibition highlights their contributions to reviving his legacy. There are also notable works by renowned artists such as Salvador Dalí and Man Ray, showcasing their homage to De Sade’s ideas.

Another aspect explored in the exhibition is De Sade’s relevance to queer culture and kinks in the latter half of the 20th century. The flourishing fetish culture of the 1970s, epitomized by establishments like the gay BDSM club Mineshaft in New York, is represented through photographs and artworks by Susan Meiselas and Robert Mapplethorpe.

De Sade has often been criticized for misogyny, but the exhibition reveals a more nuanced perspective. Figures like Simone de Beauvoir praised him for his portrayal of women’s sexual autonomy and rejection of patriarchal norms. Angela Carter, in her book The Sadeian Woman, argues that De Sade’s equal treatment of women in his writing challenges traditional gender roles.

While the exhibition delves into De Sade’s complex legacy, it doesn’t shy away from presenting the disturbing aspects of his work. It addresses violence against women through powerful installations like the Domestic Data Streamers’ soundscape, which highlights the alarming rates of femicide. Laia Abril’s photographs from her On Rape series expose the institutionalized abuses suffered by women, reflecting the ideals De Sade condemned.

As I navigate through the exhibition, I can’t help but ponder the question of whether De Sade was truly evil. The exhibition invites us to explore this question, although it presents a somewhat one-sided perspective. It would have been interesting to delve deeper into the psychological aspects and the relationship between De Sade’s imprisonment and his later confinement in a psychiatric institution.

Through its thought-provoking artworks and historical context, “Sade: Freedom or Evil” confronts our fascination with the dark and perverse. It highlights our inherent attraction to forbidden subjects and challenges societal norms.

Reference

Denial of responsibility! VigourTimes is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
Denial of responsibility! Vigour Times is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
DMCA compliant image

Leave a Comment