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May we suggest

Current Issue: Winter 2019
Winter 2019: Pleasure

Pleasure

December 15, 2018, to March 15, 2019

When we asked painter and writer Margaux Williamson to suggest an image pairing for her Keynote text on this issue’s theme of pleasure (“This Work around Me,” page 41), she emailed us more than 30 images, most of them culled from the archiving she had done as image researcher for the literary magazine n+1. These emails began to function for me as weird, graphic subtext for our editorial focus. There was so much to choose from, so many different visual iterations of pleasure—so many artworks that seemed so peculiar, so individual, that we struggled to see what they even had to do with pleasure. One of Williamson’s emails had an embedded JPEG captioned “too bad this one is too on the money,” and attributed to “anonymous canadian”; it appeared to be a painting in a cheap silver frame, a naive depiction of a shipwreck, with a figure of a woman clinging desperately to a stone cross, dragging herself out of a roiling sea that has visibly claimed the lives of all of her shipmates, one of whom reaches pathetically out of the water as if to wave goodbye to the viewer before dying. “I got it at [gallerist] Katharine Mulherin’s brief vintage shop,” Williamson told me over text. “I think she found it at a flea market or garage sale, probably near Crystal Beach. It is my favourite.”

It is a given that pleasure is subjective. Indeed, we faced bigger challenges when compiling this issue: how to speak of pleasure in a time when contemporary conversations tend to focus on how fundamentally complicated it is? Is to write about pleasure to make it instantly not pleasurable? Admittedly, you will not find much unqualified pleasure here, but rather defiant assertions of pleasure after (important) qualifications have been made. In Aruna D’Souza’s “A Feminist Diary” (page 58), she recounts her formative experiences with feminist theory and its suspicions of pleasure: “not a terrible lesson to learn,” she writes, “given how many people in the world seem to derive their greatest enjoyment from the unhappiness of others.” Later in the piece, she explains the lesson’s maturation, for her: to claim and assert pleasure—to take ownership of it, to share it—can be as radically political as outright critique. Paraphrasing artist Howardena Pindell, D’Souza writes, “aesthetic pleasure [is] important now, not just for its own sake, but to revive us, to give us the wherewithal to fight another day.”—David Balzer, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher

Cover

Oreka James, Untitled (detail), 2017. Oil paint, oil stick and acrylic gouache on unstretched canvas, 76.5 x 61 cm. Courtesy ltd los angeles. Photo: Blake Jacobsen.

Features

The World to Cum

Cum exceeds the moment of ejaculation. It’s the scent of someone’s insides when you’re back outside

by Lou Cornum

A Feminist Diary

So much feminist theory tells us to be wary of visual pleasure. But for some artists, taking pleasure in the painted surface is as political as it is recuperative

by Aruna D’Souza

On the Brain

How we encounter art is more complex than neuroscience suggests

by Sally McKay

I Do See Myself

Why the figures in Oreka James’s paintings protect their privacy

Touch It

When I stopped making clothes, I started exploring textiles differently

by Jeremy Laing

The Natural History of the World

Laura Aguilar left behind a series of photographic and video works that depict the pleasures and discomforts of her body

by Caleb Luna

For Love or Money

According to Canada Revenue, an artist is either a professional or a hobbyist—which raises broader questions about how art should be valued

Spotlight

10 Artists Who Use Pleasure to Defy and Subvert

Body alteration, boyfriend tees, and beaded cushions are some of the mediums they work with

Preview

Conversations with artists and curators on upcoming projects

Keynote

This Work around Me

by Margaux Williamson

Fiction

Diana

by Tamara Faith Berger

Legacy

Pussy Potential

by Dorian J. Fraser

Dialogue

Coming into View

by Dana Claxton and Skeena Reece

Reviews

Recent exhibitions, books, films and more

Overheard

Hues and Grooves

Black creative texts help us imagine a world outside of racial capitalism and racial violence

Online Feature

Aesthetic Arousal

For our Winter 2019 issue themed on Pleasure, we asked seven artists: which works of art turn you on?

Winter 2019: Pleasure

Past Issues