Six Books

The political dominatrix Reba Maybury is the first artist to bring a submissive and hence her practice as a sex worker into the museum context. The selection of books presented below are from her personal bibliography when preparing the exhibition at the museum and feature writings by women. Crossing genres, she presents us with a choice of six books we should all read.

The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector. 1977

Lispector zooms right into every crevice of both the abject and banal with equal tenacity. Lispector’s best known book, The Passions of GH is possibly the most hypnotically insane book I have ever read. However instead of discussing this I have chosen her last novel The Hour of the Star  because I have never read a book that muses on the state of poverty- materially, spiritually and mentally with such intensity. It is horrifyingly human and because of this it is truly beautiful. 

Ice – Anna Kavan. 1967

I found this book too disturbing to finish, but it is too brilliant not to praise. If only more women went to the depths of horror like Kavan did with this terrifying text which is much discussed as a metaphor for whiteness, her own heroin addiction and the context of the cold war which is when it was written. The novel follows an almost entirely emotionless male protagonist as he and other men assault and stalk a woman in a futuristic apocalypse ice world. The prose goes in and out of consciousness, leading the reader to be constantly questioning the reality of what they are reading. Incredible.

Uses of the Erotic – Audre Lorde. 1978

This text has an untouchable reputation for a reason. It achieves the unspeakable essence of what writing aims for – total connection. I have never read anything as radical or powerfully as clear as this text. Each reading of this gives me something completely new, something else to associate with, another way of connecting to others and myself. The erotic is life and the erotic is power.

Sadomasochism in Everyday Life: The Dynamics of Power and Powerlessness – Lynn S. Chancer. 1992

When I first discovered this book it felt as if parts of my brain slotted together with the ease of watching an ASMR video online. Brilliant writing makes you feel less alone, and although I often associate these unifying reading experiences more with fiction, this analytical text on how sadomasochism functions in capitalist life gave me the confidence to pursue my practice with greater focus. It gave me permission.

Kill Manual – Cassandra Troyan. 2014

Troyan is not scared of life and this is exhilarating. In their writing I feel the painful quest for freedom and the impossible bounds of transaction that litter our paths from this at all times, the libidinal undercurrents that pulsates through everything and the reality of violence that the free market so casually emits and how we try to control the uncontrollable. It has been a true honour to work with Troyan on the book for this show, their knowledge and sensitivity is profound.

Girlvert – Oriana Small. 2011

I always want to know what happens when women go to extremes because this realm has always been reserved to men. I know, (thanks to Bataille) that my sexuality is limitless but reading the work of women who go there is rare. This book is the work of the adult actress once going under the name Ashley Blue working in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. Small not only explains the systems of how pornography operated at the time but also how a woman assumes space when her intention is pleasure. I never wanted the book to end.