‘In these […] times it should be expected that fetishistic cultural fantasies are likely to emerge in response to the feelings of “lack” and “fragmentation” arising out of apocalyptic notions of cultural endings. This is especially so for the masculine subject, for his troubles are compounded by postmodern decenterings and subsequent losses of power and privilege. One way to fill that lack is to try to prop up the old order in the face of change, to maintain old certainties and traditional subject positions.’ *
Rick Pushinsky’s new publication Basic Pleasure Model appears to begin as any Hollywood Sci-Fi blockbuster worth its salt might; with a rocket headed across star-studded galaxies straight towards Earth. As that rocket multiplies into several rockets, and then several more throughout the sequence of photographs, the book’s singular protagonist – a fictional character played by 2017 BAFTA award winning actor Adeel Akhtar – prepares diligently for the invasion. Costumed in an array of outfits including a suit, a weightlifting top and a karate belt, and wrestling with items such as hunting and fishing equipment, this man comes to signify the quintessential, yet increasingly obsolete, idea of hyper-masculinity as peddled in such mainstream films.
Basic Pleasure Model unfolds a visual critique of gender stereotypes and constructed masculinity in several acts, beginning from the premise that so many of our stories come to us shaped by the formulaic narratives of epic and ancient myth. Pushinsky identifies this to be especially so in the genres of Sci-Fi and fantasy – think A Space Odyssey and Homer, Prometheus and the Ancient Greek Titan of the same name – while acknowledging that along with those narratives, we’ve also inherited the biological determinism of the ancient world too, including the age-old stereotypes that posit maleness as synonymous with fighting, gathering and an inherent drive to win.
Finding similarities between the virtual channels of escapism available to us in the form of films or video games – the ways in which they offer simulated experiences of violence – and the desire to physically dominate nature through practices such as hunting or sport-fishing, Pushinsky draws those observations together here. Technology, he posits, operates as fetish and prop for the spectre of masculinity, and the set of images he creates in Basic Pleasure Model wryly reflect this through the visual parodying of bizarre phallic prosthetics, laser-effects and surreal explosion montages.
* Fernbach, A. 2000: The Fetishization of Masculinity in Science Fiction: The Cyborg and the Console Cowboy
Design by Bernd Grether
24 x 32cm
Screen printed cover with tipped-in image
Open spine binding
Edition of 250