Many of you remember me mentioning this but here goes again.
In 1988 a Finnish artist made a video called Sex and Death where there was a 6 seconds long scene in which he decapitated a cat with an axe and ejaculated on it. Prior to that scene there was half hours or an hour (depending on the version) of images of violence towards nature and human beings. I have now translated a summary where Teemu explains the function of the cat killing scene.
The artistic function of the cat killing scene
As I was making the piece I realized that among the violence cavalcade I needed violence which had no other obvious purpose or explanation. Violence which would be just violence as it is, without anything immediately emerging, satisfying explanation.
The function of the cat killing scene was:
I wanted to present violence as an unsolvable basic question. I wanted to admit that the my Marxist/adornoilais/desadeian violence analysis is not explicit, but there remains a dreadful conclusion: We will resort to violence, we don't want to and we can't get rid of it. We don't exactly know what is it in violence that corrodes us and what is in it that feeds us.
I wanted to raise the question about the pleasure of watching violence. Only few of the clips of violent material I used for the piece are watched for gain, for the skill of rational problem solving required for information. Still very few of us are actual sadists. What are the reasons which makes us volunteer to watch violence, either real or mimetic?
I was hoping that this unexplainable violence in the piece would show itself so true exactly for the lack of explanations and purpose that it would make the other violence shown in the piece seem like violence, not as a representation of something dynamic and symbolic.
I was thinking, that because the cat killing scene would likely provoke a strong emotional reaction in the crowd, this reaction would be a proof of that the explicit, "meaningless" violence is less harmful than the structural and emotional violence. Obscene and "meaningless" (or self-intrinsic) violence is such a strong effect that even a small dose of it is much, it horrifies and/or contradictionarily enchants the viewer and the violence doer. Which is unlike the structural violence that insidiously masks itself and thus even an insane amount of it won't feel like much.
The 6 seconds of cat killing scene in the piece was after an hour of presentation of violence against humans and other nature: documentary pictures of war, hunger, ecocatastrophy, structural violence and forced labor. I was hoping that the viewer would be shocked about the cat killing scene but after that even more shocked when the viewer would realize that he/she dismissed the other, much bigger waves of violence just like that. I knew that I will kill a cat for this piece, the audience will be shocked, but I was hoping that it would make the audience consider how many people need to be oppressed and killed for their lifestyle and consumer habits.
I also wanted to deal with mortality and pain as something else than the opposite of a good life, as something else than a problem from which we'd hope the technological advances would free us from. My goal is to accept mortality and try to experience it not only as the edge of life, but as the source of everything pleasant. Only the limited nature of life gives us the chance to feel like it's valuable, just like death gives sense to life just like the empty stomach gives worth to food and the pain does to
The basic ethos of the piece, which is borrowed from Marquis de Sade, is that as violence is instrumentalisized for calculated gain pursuit, it loses it's fruitful potential, it's vitalizing ability, masks itself into something else and grows with the help of it's invisibility to colossal scale. The result is a world, where the most destructive violence is hidden and those who are guilty of it consider themselves non-violent, ordinary and law-abiding people. Few people die in street fights or are the victims of a pedofile compared to the number of people who die because we want cheap sneakers, bananas and oil without wanting to know who is enslaved and murder in order to pay for those.