Sex Be With You

Batten and Kamp, IV Chan, Florence Lam, Lau Hong Lam

30 June –  2 Sept 2023

Curated by: Charmaine Tam

Novalis Art Design

G/F, 197 Hollywood Road, Hong Kong

Sex Be With You
Charmaine Tam

Sex is everywhere. We are surrounded by sex, especially in this modern consumerist age, where sex, the promise of it, or the ideal sex symbol has been used to sell products through a near constant bombardment of imagery. The ready availability of online porn and other digital media has made the rampant consumption of sex possible. The proliferation of sexualisation in mainstream media has made it less taboo, and the act no longer carries the taboos from previous more conservative eras apart from religious exceptions. Sex out of marriage is no longer frowned upon, we are urged to celebrate our own sexuality. This is indeed a thing to be celebrated! And yet, with sex becoming commonplace, it seems to have led to an increase in the mindless consumption of it. Perhaps you might argue that sex itself stems from biological urge and thus itself is mindless. However, more and more people are increasingly blinded to the power of sex, that in any act of sex, power is being exerted on, or being taken away from someone or something. Sex (be it the act itself, the projected image of it, manifestations in visual culture, or the desire of it) and power are inherently intertwined with each other. This exhibition is an invitation to both the audience and the artists Lau Hong Lam, IV Chan, Florence Lam, and Batten and Kamp to re-examine this relationship between sex and power that permeates our society.



We begin our exploration of sex and power with Lau Hong Lam’s mezzotint series The Bee and The Butterfly which explores the power dynamics in relationships based on the attachment styles of intimacy. The six prints interpret the fluidity of power and madness of obsession within intimacy. The work revolves around two Greek mythological deities of love and sexuality, Eros and Anteros, who represent the expression of love and the response of love respectively. Those who are struck by Eros’ golden arrow sink into unrequited love for others (or one might say a lustful obsession), while those who are struck by Anteros’ arrow respond to the love of others. In mythology Anteros was born to balance the madness and confusion caused by Eros’ random arrows and to give love its true reward. Eros and Anteros are often portrayed as opposites, but at the same time they cannot exist alone. Eros and Anteros are mirrors that complement and complete each other, just as in an intimate relationship, love needs to be an even match, not a one-way projection or exertion of power. In many ancient Greek texts, Eros and the bee have a very close relationship, with Eros’ arrows being described by his mother, the goddess of love Aphrodite as causing pain like a bee sting, while Anteros’ butterfly wings are often depicted as a symbol for anxious attachment styles. Although the figure with anxious attachment is often interpreted as a tormented and abusive character for the figure with avoidant attachment, the suffocating love they give is also a punishment for the avoidant figure. The chase and flight are like an endless cycle. Their love for each other, though seemingly toxic, tends move towards balance eventually. These are expressed in the works as different symbols. Both Eros and Anteros are depicted with their respective wings of feather and butterfly. The connection between the bee and Eros and the honey-sweet sensation of love is expressed through the motifs of honey and the bee, while Anteros’ response of love, pure love is represented by the butterfly motif and the stars that reference the fate of Ariadne who had experienced different forms of love, the star representing the requited love she received from Dionysus. Pure love is a completely sensual thing, it is the desire for sex. We are wounded by the golden arrow of Eros, we fall in love with total insanity and sweet honey-like fantasies, and at the same time we yearn for the reciprocation of love or sex.


Moving on to another area of sex and power dynamics, in The Good, the Bed and the Snuggly IV Chan creates a mise-en-scène of sex for the viewer to interpret and activate in their mind with their own fantasy. As we approach, we are first greeted by the broken, unhinged bed rail flung at us by the two figures who are so engrossed in violent sex, they have broken the baby bed. The setting of the baby bed already lends a sense of taboo to the sexual act in question. IV Chan deliberately leaves the identities of the purple and green figures open to interpretation, either of them could be male, female, genderless, or even nonhuman. The roles of the figures are also not specified and could be engaged in taboos such as incest. The only thing that is clear is that they are engaged in all-consuming sex: green wrapping purple in an engulfing embrace, purple pushing against green to the point where they both ooze out of the baby bed, entrails and/or sexual organs flailing. As if within the sexual act they are so ravenous to join with the other, that it is not enough and they spillover to encroach upon their surroundings.

The exploration of sex and power in The Good, the Bed and the Snuggly takes inspiration from key ideas in Georges Bataille’s Eroticism: Death and Sensuality. To Bataille, ‘human sexual activity is not necessarily erotic but erotic it is whenever it is not rudimentary and purely animal.’1 And how does one break free of the ‘rudimentary and purely animal’ impulse? By denying the natural phenomenon of sex, which is the drive to reproduce offspring, we shirk off the animal and become humans interested only in pure pursuit of pleasure. Thus, the fact that the green and purple beings are so absorbed in sex that they break the baby bed which is a symbol of the end goal of reproduction reflects this. IV also alludes to the more violent, sinister side of sex that Bataille mentions where there is a deliberate loss of self in the sexual climax.2 The two figures certainly seem to intertwine so fiercely to meld into unity that ‘flesh’ is squeezed to the point of bursting, and both invade their surroundings, a destructive force creeping up the ‘baby mobile’ hanging over the baby bed. Another key difference between human and animal lies in the taboo which ‘opens a door closed to animal nature, namely, the transgression of the law.’3 The fact that the sexual act occurs on a baby bed, something that is associated with a baby that is pure, innocent and thus furthest away from sex itself recalls the taboo. Stickers stuck throughout the baby bed with phrases like ‘Suck My Toe,’ ‘Cry Louder,’ and ‘Fresh Milk’ which start off as phrases associated with baby behaviour now take on a layer of sexual meaning, reinforcing the taboo. Through these explorations, The Good, the Bed and the Snuggly highlights sex and power in various ways: the surrendering of the self as a surrender of power in sex, transgressing the taboo in sex as an enactment of power, the setting of what is taboo itself a reflection of the power exercised on the individual by society, and the power involved in sex and fertility.


The relation between the power dynamics in sex and female fertility is foregrounded in Florence Lam’s Chicken, Pork, Beef and Fish. This series of four videos in which Florence performs ‘table-top action poetry’ was inspired by feminist-vegetarian author Carol J. Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat, which explores the relationship between meat eating and patriarchal power. Florence highlights the systematic exploitation of female fertility with these works, each ‘menu item’ fraught with symbols and actions that recall female fertility in a familiar but uncanny manner.

Carol J. Adams presents an observation that there is a ‘cycle of objectification, fragmentation, and consumption, which links butchering and sexual violence in our culture.’4 Adams also proposes the key concept of the absent referent, which is the partial mechanism of how this cycle operates oppression. Adams draws parallels between sex and meat, with the process of objectification of animals as meat mirroring the objectification and fetishization of women as sexual objects. For this to occur, the animals or women turn into absent referents. Language forms a new definition that blurs the literal truth behind the oppressed and is a key process of making the oppressed ‘absent.’ An example of an absent referent becoming a metaphor would be how rape victims say, ‘I felt like a piece of meat.’ Adams observes: ‘Just as dead bodies are absent from our language about meat, in descriptions of cultural violence women are also often the absent referent.’5 An example would be use of the word ‘rape’ as a metaphor in situations where violent devastation is involved, such as the ‘rape’ of the earth. In both instances, the oppressed absent referent becomes a vehicle for describing other oppressions. Adams posits that ‘through the function of the absent referent, Western culture constantly renders the material reality of violence into controlled and controllable metaphors.’

All four videos feature Florence performing a series of actions on a traditional white tablecloth setting which directly references the act of eating and recalls Adams’ parallel drawn between meat eating and patriarchal power. Florence involves her own body in all four ‘tabletop action poetries.’ The actions stem from her own experience of male/female power dynamics and female fertility through the lens of The Sexual Politics of Meat. In Chicken, Florence places an orange on top of her baby photo on the table. She then proceeds to cut the orange open with a steak knife, echoing the action of cutting meat into bite-sized pieces before consumption. The orange seeds are picked out and set aside while she squeezes orange juice into the glass. She then proceeds to drink the seed with the orange juice as if she were taking medicine. Instead of a thermometer, a pregnancy test is used to ‘take her temperature.’ The metaphor for female fertility is clear, as female fertility in the form of the orange and the orange seed is harvested and the state of fertility is compared to being sick. Pork features Florence singling out Queens from shuffling decks of playing cards, cutting out the flowers, placing the resultant 14 flowers in two rows with chopsticks on a period pad, and spitting on the flowers with chocolate milk that she drank from a glass. There is a direct reference to the animal in question as female pigs have 14 nipples, and the symbols of female fertility are sprinkled throughout: the flowers, the Queen symbolizing the female, the period pad which alludes to menstruation, an indication of female fertility. The actions in Beef invite multiple layered readings. Florence takes an eyeliner that has been set on a plate and draws ‘NO’ on her face. She then takes soap out of her bra to grate it and collects the grated soap on a metal dish. After this she takes an onion out of her bra, peels the skin and proceeds grating it to make herself tear up. She collects the tears in a glass bowl, mixes the tears with the grated soap and uses the resulting soap water to clean ‘NO’ from her face. Before abortion was legalised, one folk method was to grate soap, mix it with boiling hot water and inject into the uterus. The tears can be read as a sign of emotion, or non-emotion as just a bodily reaction. The ‘NO ’offers many possible readings. Is the ‘NO’ a no to patriarchal power and thus a reclaiming of female agency and sexual power? Is it a symbol of the negations, denials, and rejections, the ‘NO’ branded on the female body by patriarchal society? Is it the artist saying ‘NO’ to the audience’s consumption of her? The possibilities go on. In Fish, Florence ties a few strands of hair to a fishing hook, hooks a pair of nude lace underwear with the tablecloth, puts a spoon through the hair ‘fishing line’ into her mouth and proceeds to pull the underwear and tablecloth up with the spoon. The ‘consumption’ of sex represented by the lace underwear is here linked to the consumption of meat through the act of hunting with the fishing hook. These works comment on the lost sexual power in female fertility which is taken for granted in both the human and animal world.



Having started with Lau Hong Lam’s series of works that explore sex and power dynamics within romantic relationships, we now end with Batten and Kamp who are in both a creative and romantic partnership. Among this selection of artists, Batten and Kamp are most able to explore relationship power dynamics and sex in work that directly involve both parties in the narrative, as opposed to an artist creating work about their own relationship from a one-sided point of view. The result of this examination is Sex Tape. It is simultaneously the most explicit and yet the most aesthetically distant from the topic of sex itself out of this group of works. Sex Tape is, in a nutshell, a literal sex tape of Batten and Kamp filming themselves having sex. The sex tape is then encoded in the USB drive which is in turn encased within a glass and stainless- steel coffee table. The structure of the table is made so that the USB and sex tape is inaccessible unless the collector chooses to destroy the artwork. Aesthetically, the table appears cold, clinical even, reminiscent of sci-fi, futuristic furniture with nothing to hint of the human, carnal nature of the content contained inside. And so, what one might expect from a ‘sex tape,’ an exploration of sex reflecting the power dynamics within the relationship is instead turned towards the audience. In the act of effectively withholding their sex tape from the audience, Batten and Kamp has chosen to direct the query of sex and power dynamics externally, one of power between the artist and the audience/collector. In withholding the sex tape from the audience/collector Batten and Kamp exerts power in preventing the consumption of a piece of themselves and their relationship, but also in enticing and teasing the audience/collector with the conceptual promise of sex. It questions the power dynamic between artist/audience/collector, and comments on the phenomenon where the audience wants more than what the artist would like to give.

‘Sex be with you.’

We shall end this exploration here with this blessing, and pass the s-expedition to you, the audience.


性無處不在。我們被性所包圍,尤其在這個現代消費主義時代,透過持續影像轟炸的方式——性、對性的承諾,或完美 的性象徵被用作銷售商品。在網絡及其他數碼媒體上隨手可得的色情內容,讓性可以被任意地、大量地消費。主流媒體 充斥著性的內容,令性不如以往般被視為禁忌,除了宗教上的原因,性行為已掙脫過去保守時代的禁忌色彩。婚前性行 為不再為人詬病,社會鼓勵我們歌頌自身的性事,這確實應當被歌頌!然而,隨著性變得平常,似乎令對性的盲目消費 愈發嚴重。也許你會說,性本身源自生理上的需求,本身就是盲目的。然而,愈來愈多的人對性的權力關係問題視而不 見,在任何性的行為中,權力都被施加在某人或某物身上,或從某人或某物被剝奪。性(無論是行為本身、其投射的形 象、在視覺文化中的呈現,對它的渴望,或想像中的性)與權力運作從來都是相互交織的。是次展覽,我們邀請觀眾與 藝術家劉杭霖、陳子雯、Florence Lam以及Batten and Kamp,一起重新審視滿佈於社會,性與權力的固有關係。

以劉杭霖的美柔汀版畫(Mezzotint)系列《蜜蜂和蝴蝶》(The Bee and The Butterfly)開始,我們展開對性和權力的探 索。基於親密關係裡的依附類型(attachment styles),這系列作品探討在一段關係之中的權力運作。這六幅版畫詮釋了 在親密關係之中,權力的流動性和癡迷的瘋狂。作品圍繞希臘神話中兩位愛與性的神祇,愛神厄洛斯(Eros)和情慾之 神安忒洛斯(Anteros),他們分別代表了對愛的表達和對愛的回應。被厄洛斯金箭射中的人,會陷入一種對他人不求回 報的愛(或可說是一種對色慾的沉迷),而被安忒洛斯之箭射中的人,則會回應他人的愛。在神話中,安忒洛斯的誕生 是為了平衡厄洛斯的亂箭所造成的瘋狂和混亂,並給予愛真誠的回報。厄洛斯和安忒洛斯經常被描繪成對立的形象,但 同時又不能獨立存在。厄洛斯和安忒洛斯是一對相互補完的鏡子,如同在一段親密關係中,愛情需要平分秋色,而不是 單向的投射或施加權力。在許多古希臘文獻的描述裡,厄洛斯和蜜蜂有著非常密切的關係,厄洛斯的母親,愛神阿芙蘿 迪蒂(Aphrodite)形容厄洛斯的箭如蜜蜂蜇人一樣令人疼痛,而安忒洛斯的蝴蝶翅膀則經常被描繪為焦慮依附類型的象 徵。儘管焦慮依附型人物常常被理解為會對逃避型依附人物施加折磨和虐待,但他們那種令人窒息的愛也是對逃避型依 附人物的一種懲罰。這場追逐和逃避就像是一個無止境的循環。他們對彼此的愛,看起來雖然是有毒的關係,但最終自 會趨向平衡。這些都在作品中以不同的象徵表現出來。厄洛斯和安忒洛斯都分別擁有外型為羽毛和蝴蝶的翅膀。蜜蜂和 厄洛斯之間的關係,以及如花似蜜的愛情感覺,透過蜂蜜和蜜蜂的主題表達出來,而安忒洛斯對愛情的回應——純愛, 則以蝴蝶主題和星星來代表,星星象徵阿里阿德涅(Ariadne)的命運,她經歷了不同形式的愛情,而星星代表她從戴歐 尼修斯(Dionysus)裡得到彼此相愛的戀情。純粹的愛完全是官能的事情,它是對性的渴望。我們被厄洛斯的金箭所傷, 陷入了完全瘋狂和甜蜜的愛情幻想之中,同時我們又渴望得到愛或性的回報。

轉向另一個性與權力的領域,陳子雯在《乖乖、同牀、抱抱》中,創造了一個性愛場景,讓觀眾解讀和激發自己內心的 幻想。當我們走近,首先看到兩個生物透過激烈的性愛而摧毀了嬰兒床,並將破碎的床欄拋向我們。嬰兒床的設定,為 這場性行為帶來了一種禁忌感。陳子雯故意模糊這紫色和綠色生物的性徵,以留下詮釋空間,它們中任意一個可以是男 性、女性、無性別抑或是非人類。人物的角色也沒有具體說明,可能涉及亂倫等禁忌。眼前唯一肯定的是,他們正全身 心投入於性愛之中,綠色身體纏繞著紫色的,有如把對方吞噬進懷內,而紫色的身體推擠著綠色的,以至他們都從嬰兒 床上冒出,揮舞著他們的臟器或性器官。從他們的性行為看來,他們好像非常渴望與對方融為一體,以至於這點空間不 夠用,要冒出來侵佔周圍的環境。

《乖乖、同牀、抱抱》對性和權力的探索,靈感來自喬治·巴塔耶(Georges Bataille)《情色論:死亡與感官》 (Eroticism: Death and Sensuality)中的主要思想。對巴塔耶來說,「人類的性活動不一定是色情的,但只要它不是最原 始和純動物性的話,它就是色情的。」1 那麼,一個人如何擺脫「最原始和純動物」的衝動呢? 通過否認性的自然現象, 也就是繁殖後代的驅動力,我們擺脫了動物的本性,成為只想追求純粹快感的人類。因此,綠色和紫色生物如此沉醉於 性愛,甚至摧毀了象徵繁殖為最終目標的嬰兒床,正好反映出這個狀態。陳子雯還暗示了巴塔耶提及的性愛中更為暴力 與邪惡的一面,在性高潮時有意識的失去自我。2這兩個生物看來如此緊密地交織在一起,以至其「肉體」被擠壓到近乎 要爆炸,他們侵入四周空間,一種破壞性的力量悄然向上爬,延伸到懸掛在嬰兒床上的「床鈴」。人類和動物之間的另 一重要區別在於另一種禁忌,「對於紀律良好的人類來說,它打開了一扇與動物本能無關的大門,這被稱之為「違法行 為」。」3因為這場性行為發生在嬰兒床上,令它與嬰兒扯上關係。嬰兒是一種純潔、無辜的存在,而它與「性」的遙遠 距離正好令人聯想到這個禁忌。嬰兒床上貼著像「啜我的腳趾」、「哭大聲點」和「新鮮的牛奶」等字眼的貼紙,它們 本應只是有關嬰兒的行為,但現在多了一層性的意味,並加強了禁忌的感覺。透過這些動作,《乖乖、同牀、抱抱》以 各種方式突出了性和權力——對自我意識的放棄,就是在性關係中放棄權力;在性行為中違反禁忌以體現權力;對何謂 禁忌的定義本身,反映出社會對個人行使的權力;以及性和生育所涉及的權力。

Florence Lam的《雞豬牛魚》(Chicken, Pork, Beef and Fish)以性和女性生育能力的權力運作關係作為主題。Florence在 這一系列的四個錄像裡執行「桌面行為詩」,作品靈感來自女權——素食主義作家卡洛·J·亞當斯(Carol J. Adams)的 《肉類的性政治》(The Sexual Politics of Meat),當中探討了食肉和父權的關係。通過這些作品,Florence反映出女性 的生育能力被系統性地剝削,每份「餐單」都充滿了象徵和動作,以一種熟悉但又令人不安的方式,令人聯想到女性的 生育。

卡洛·J·亞當斯提出:「我們的文化中,存在著一個物化、碎片化和消費的循環,並以此將屠宰和性暴力聯繫在一 起。」4亞當斯還提出了「缺席對象」的重要概念,它是這個循環機制如何進行壓迫的一部部分。亞當斯比較了「性」 和「肉」的共通處——動物被物化為肉的過程,正好對照女性被物化與戀物化成為性物件的情況,而這個情況得以出 現,是因為動物或女性都成為了缺席對象。語言產生的新定義,模糊了被壓迫者背後的字面真相,是令被壓迫者「缺 席」的關鍵過程。舉例,當一個強姦受害者說「我覺得自己像一塊肉」,一個缺席對象便成為了隱喻。亞當斯指出: 「就像我們關於肉的用語中沒有動物屍體一樣,在對文化暴力的描述中,女性也經常成為缺席對象。」5一個例子是在涉 及暴力與破壞的情況下,借用「強姦」一詞作隱喻,例如對地球的「強姦」。在這兩種情況下,被壓迫的缺席對象成為 描述其他壓迫的工具。亞當斯認為,「通過缺席對象的作用,西方文化不斷將暴力的真正事實,轉化為被控制和可控制的 隱喻。」

這全數四條的錄像裡,Florence 在一塊傳統白色桌布上執行了一系列的動作,直接指向進食的行為,並聯繫到亞當斯的食 肉與父權之間的平行關係。Florence 的四個「桌面行為詩」均涉及到自己的身體,這些動作源於她對男女權力運作和女性 生育的自身體驗,並透過《肉類的性政治》的角度為體現。在《雞》中,Florence 將自己的嬰兒照放在桌面上,並在照 片上放了一個橙。然後她用牛排刀切開橙子,呼應人們進食前把肉切成小塊的動作。之後,她把橙汁擠進杯子裡,並把 橙裡的籽挑出來放在一旁,然後她就像吃藥般,把橙籽與橙汁一起喝下去。她用驗孕棒代替探熱針來「測量她的體溫」 。這明顯是對女性生育的隱喻,女性的生育能力以橙和橙籽的形態被收割,而生育能力的狀態則被比作是生病。而在《 豬》中,Florence 在洗啤牌時把皇后都抽了出來,她把牌上的花朵剪下來,用筷子把這14朵花排成兩行,放在衛生巾上, 最後她從玻璃杯喝下朱古力奶,再吐向這些花朵。在此,動物被直接指涉——母豬有14個乳頭,而女性生育的象徵也貫 穿這段影片:花朵、象徵女性的皇后,暗示月經的衛生巾,這些都指向女性的生育。而在《牛》中,她的動作則邀請我 們進行不同層次的解讀。Florence 從碟中拿起一支眼線筆,並在自己的臉上畫上「NO」(不)字。然後她從胸圍裡取出 一塊肥皂來磨碎,再把磨碎的肥皂放在一個金屬碟。之後,她從胸圍裡拿出一個洋蔥,剝去外皮,持續磨碎它,並在過 程中令自己流淚。她把眼淚收集在玻璃碗中,把眼淚和磨碎的肥皂混合在一起,然後用這些肥皂水來清洗臉上的 「NO」 。在現代墮胎方法合法化之前,一種民間的方法是將肥皂磨碎,用滾水沖開肥皂並灌入子宮內。眼淚可以被解讀為情感 的符號,或僅僅是身體的反應。而這個「NO」字提供了許多解讀的可能。「NO」字是否代表對父權的拒絕,並且表示取 回女性的自主與性權力?作為否定、拒絕和排斥的符號,是否父權社會在女性身體上烙下的「不」字?還是藝術家對觀 眾對她的消費說「不」?解讀的可能性不勝枚舉。在《魚》中,Florence 把幾條頭髮綁在一個魚鉤上,再將一對裸色蕾絲 內衣鉤在桌布上,一只匙穿過那頭髮做成的「魚絲」,再被她含在嘴裡,然後用匙子拉起內衣和桌布。透過魚鉤捕捉的 行為,蕾絲內衣所代表的性「消費」,與肉的消耗在此被聯繫起來。這些作品探討女性因為生育能力而導致的性權力喪 失,而這在人類和動物世界都被視為理所當然。

我們從劉杭霖探討浪漫關係中,性和權力運作的一系列作品開始,並將以Batten and Kamp作結,他們透過一段關係,以 自己的方式探索性和權力運作。在這一眾藝術家中,Batten and Kamp最能從作品探討關係中的權力運作和性,並讓雙 方直接參與作品中的敘事,而不是由其中一位藝術家以他的片面角度去創作關於他們兩者的作品。《性愛錄影帶》(Sex Tape)便是在這考證之下創作出來,它既是一眾作品之中最為露骨的,但同時在審美上卻與性的主題相距最遠。簡而言 之,《性愛錄影帶》是名乎其實的一齣由Batten and Kamp拍攝自己進行性行為的影片,這段影片被編碼在USB記憶體 內,並被封存在一張玻璃與不銹鋼的咖啡桌裡。桌子的結構設計使得 USB 和性愛錄像帶無法被接觸,除非收藏家選擇破 壞藝術品。美學上,這張桌子看起來很冰冷,甚至有些像是醫療設施,具有科幻或未來主義傢俱的風格,難以令人聯想 到內裡收藏的肉慾內容。因此,人們對「性愛錄影帶」的可能期待——從一場性愛的權力運作所反映出的一段關係中的 權力運作,反而轉向了觀眾。透過成功阻止觀眾得到他們的性愛影帶,Batten and Kamp選擇把性和權力運作的探究轉向 外部,即藝術家與觀眾/收藏家之間的權力關係。在阻止觀眾/收藏家得到性愛影帶的過程中,Batten and Kamp以權力阻 止觀眾/收藏家消費他們的關係與部份自我,但同時也利用抽象的性愛承諾來誘惑和挑逗觀眾/收藏家。它質疑藝術家/觀 眾/收藏家之間的權力運作,並對觀眾想要的比藝術家想給的更多,這一現象進行評論。