What have Cabanel’s Birth of Venus, Klein’s Anthropometry, or Kusama’s Self-Obliteration in common? What relates Picasso’s Woman Pissing to Marlene Dumas’ watercolours and Tejal Shah’s Between the Waves? All these art works are deploying a wet aesthetics. This refers to an aesthetic experience that is realised by the perceptual interaction with wetness. What is remarkable of wet aesthetics, is that it affords a strong erotic or sexual resonance. This is not surprising; a wet aesthetics produces specific visceral effects in the viewer’s body.
Queer pornographic art has radicalized wet aesthetics in promising ways; it realises its visceral, motoric, and tactile potential in a liquifying, emancipatory, and sex-positive project. The viewer experiences queer pornography’s wet aesthetics as heating by melting. It radically decenters our subject/object experience and our fixed sexual identities, orientations, fetishes, and bodies. We are seduced into a sex-positive re-appropriation of bodily fluids, and our experience of desire and pleasure is reconstructed as dispossession, abundance, and surrender.
Petra van Brabandt is a Belgian philosopher of ethics and a porno specialist. She currently teaches at the St Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp and develops for her lecture an account on the aesthetic quality of fluids in pornographic art.