Could Anything Be Sweeter Than Desire In Chains? / Please God, No French Manicures
Series of 14, tweets and image data. Dimensions variable, 3/2016.
Exhibition catalogue write-up for In The Flesh, Nauti Studios 6/2016:
'Bethan Cotterill’s new media series explores the power of digital identity formation with relevance to gender politics and technology. Drawing on theoretical readings of hip-hop as a means of power redistribution via remixing media borne of preexisting structures as inspiration for her method, Bethan inserted recent tweets by the now independent adult film actress and director Stoya into the image code of photos from Stoya’s time in the porn industry. Stoya now creates and curates porn that she describes as a ‘big giant reaction against’ the industry. Her recent tweets, dubbed a ‘Kanye level Twitter rant’, are a post-Internet diary of self discovery: an investigation of freedom and womanhood after exiting a system that dehumanised her via fetishisation. Bethan weaves these tweets through the image code of Stoya’s industry photos. The images that result from this process are a technological as well as proverbial demonstration of the discord between two of Stoya’s digital identities.
Each work’s title is the tweet used to rupture the image code.
“Could anything be sweeter than desire in chains?” is a quote from the adult art film Café Flesh (1982), which explores the boundaries between art, performance, sex, and smut. Although the film was panned by critics, it has acquired cult admiration for its presentation of theoretical issues.
‘Please God, no French manicures’ is a quote by Stoya referencing her distaste for the porn industry. French manicures are one of the hallmarks of conventional industry porn, and a symbol of female disempowerment within the porn industry: actresses are discouraged from doing anything strenuous enough to risk breaking a nail, as each is a part of their costume, and thus directly tied to their professionalism as a performer.'