The Origins Of The World, Part II

The foundation for this video installation is Gustave Courbet’s Naturalistic painting ”The Origins of the World” from 1866. A painting that – though the title has deep existential connotations – shares a strong motivic relationship with modern pornography. Added to this installation are two found objects – a piece of wood and the video piece – that underscores the accidental aspect of this installation.

Gustav Courbet: L’Origine du Monde (1866). Source: Wikimedia

The material used for the film is a fifties or sixties stag film found on the Internet. It is manipulated, its course character accentuated, and placed next to a print out of Courbet’s painting and a log, also found, which due to the motivic (again!) similarity one fine evening saved itself from consumption by fire and gave the spark to the idea for the installation.

From the project description:

«The significance of the installation piece is threefold and layered:

1. The material; Paper relates naturally to wood. The screen is on one level just a prolongation of graphical/photographical prints on paper or canvas.

2. Representation as relation; The log – as a found object – is by nature shaped as a woman’s lower torso. Courbet’s painting conveys a naturalistic presentation of a woman’s sex, with the implications found in the naturalistic philosophical basis. The video piece is a manipulation of a stag film found on the internet; being a pornographic film with focus on the woman’s sex in a quite different manner than Courbet’s painting but still in an expression almost identical.

3. Symbolic significance; The log – with its shape – can be seen as representing an early but still in many ways active worship of Nature, where life and spirituality is seen manifested in «Nature». Courbet’s painting – with its heavy, existential title – is also forcing the viewers attention towards the vagina of the woman, pointing out the woman as giver of life, quite literally, but in a more socio-political way and as a challenge to the western taboo of sex and sexuality; sex as a natural part of humans existence. But also with an added level of significance for many viewers to day, due to the apparent similarity to modern pornography, that came as a result of the photographic revolution in the 1880s and onwards. The film is a stag film, a film for «home viewing» of a woman offering herself to the viewer in a situation that strongly resembles Courbet’s painting, but here with no deeper purpose that to entice the viewer, to turn them on, with an inherent promise of a sexual fulfillment that will never come to be.

Add to this that Courbet’s painting, just as the video piece, was found on the internet and presented as a print out, gives them a relationship which connects them together by today’s extreme level of accessibility. The net being much more than the largest purveyor of pornography in out time, but also by far the largest channel of visual culture and media, reshaping both our own contemporary culture, our modes of personal expression and our relationship with and understanding of our visual past.»


Technical information

7min. Looped DVD. Screened on flat screen together with found object and print out of Gustave Courbet’s paining «L’Origine du monde» (1866).


This is Pastiche Films production no PP012

© 2008 Pastiche Films