When is a mouth an asshole? How do we know when something ends and something else begins?
Traditional darkroom photography requires fixing an otherwise inherently malleable material. A moment in time is decisively arrested on the negative by the shutter’s action. This capture accounts for photography’s indexical nature, its eternal betrothal to the Real. No photographic image is conceivable without this process. As photographs, therefore, Chris Curreri’s Kiss Portfolio partakes in capturing a real event in time—the act of two men kissing. But for the viewer encountering the work, something else takes place, which unfixes what was previously arrested with such perfection. In Curreri’s photographs, the viewer is tempted to see “an asshole” or “a vagina” before seeing two mouths kissing. The images, in other words, unhinge themselves from photography’s fundamental connection to the Real, and assume an unexpected autonomy. In art-historical terms, this experience of unhinging might be described as the artwork’s surrealist quality. Curreri calls this, the work’s unruliness—its resistance to fixedness and, simultaneously, its movement toward a renewed sense of instability.
Is there something ethical about this gesture? Is the eros that underlies this work also a foundation for a reanimated relationship between bodies resisting arrest?