Andreja Brulc's Blog

Illustration: Neighbours / Book Cover / Pascal Bruckner

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 01/04/2009

Print Layout 1This illustration, titled as Neighbours (2007), was made for the book L’amour du Prochain (The Paradox of Love) written by the French author Pascal Bruckner. It shows a response to the novel, which talks about the disillusioned generation of ex-students of 1968, who under the slogan ‘Let’s be Realists, Let’s Demand the Impossible’ attempted to change the foundations of capitalism of the western society but failed. Today, the ex-rebels from the barricades of Sorbonne are very successful businessmen, directors of global corporations, important politicians and diplomats, all of them the most eminent representatives of the very same state apparatus against which they fought 40 years ago.

The illustration shows the moment in which the main protagonist, Sebastian, finds himself with two method in a rented flat, with the view of Paris and butterflies flying in through the open French door. Sebastian realises at his 30th birthday party that his success can make him a prisoner of his own self if he remains a conformist to traditional moral values. So, he decides to substitute his economic success and monotonous family life to become a male prostitute, who, with religious fervour, enlivens the life of bored and sexually deprived homemakers. What begins in happiness transforms gradually into a nightmare. Bruckner depicts a dangerous current of decaying bourgeois society: a desire to break away from everyday routine and a belief that one can make a normal life outside tradition, ignoring taboos.

The use of handicrafts as a subversive technique in this piece highlights the double life – and the reversed role in sexual behaviour – of the main character through the use of the methods and materials (stitched embroidery and lace) signifying the transformation of moral values from tradition to transgression. In our widespread imagination, prostitution is more commonly associated with women. The prostitution of heterosexual men is, on the other hand, somewhat “hidden” in our society but, in contrast to any other form of prostitution, it has to some extent been glorified in literature and movies, as described by the French euphemistic term “gigolo“, as a handsome type, who escorts rich and unattractive widows, such as Richard Gere’s character in American Gigolo (1980).

Promiscuity in sexual behaviour is still part of a taboo in more traditional, if not even in progressive, cultures. By exposing in the illustration the essential parts of the body as a fetish – covered in lace and textile – I intended to emphasise the most common stereotypical, or even “macho”, perception of parts of the body associated with sexuality. At the same time by making facial parts ambiguous and thus stripping the individuality from each character, the illustration further raises a concerned issue that such relationships, as depicted in the novel, can still be an individual traumatic experience.



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