FIRST VIENNA FETISH ART&FILM FESTIVAL – NMHW GOES RETROSPECT
Last week AtelierTheater, one of the oldest theatres in Vienna, celebrated its very first Vienna Fetish Art&Film Festival (Website). Having received an invitation by the curators of this bold and great initiative, Aleksandra Andrejewna and Marijeta Karlovic Graf, we were eager to attend and learn more about the very much stigmatised and misunderstood world of object adoration and other unconventional requisites of human (sexual) desire. NMHW goes retrospect.
One day the image of oil floating on the ocean’s surface entered my mind. First the oil sticks together, a big stain of drops trying to hang on to one another as the water tries to stir them up. Inevitably, they part and start to drift away, dissolve into the water to disappear for ever. This is how I perceived myself as an individual, as a sexual human being. The moment this became clear to me was also the moment my sexual interests started to shift. Scent for one became a very important stimulus for sexual attraction. I discovered that by being tied up I could feel myself again – and just be me, not a wife or a mother or anything. I caught myself fantasising about sexually dominant men, who by literally taking my freedom and even inflict some level of pain would help me tune back into my body again. This shift made me realise fetishism and BDSM are not by definition anomalous; they are more like a conscious next level of sexuality, a free choice to allow oneself to escape being an adult dealing with the struggles and repetition of every day life and play again, fantasise and explore boundaries, like we did when we were carefree children.Curator Aleksandra Andrejewna The yearning for something more, the desire or even human need to sometimes escape into the magical world of child-like imagination and the belief in something powerful that can free us from society’s chains and shackles. This is the source of fetishism and the message of the festival.
If you look at its selection of films, documentaries, readings and other activities, it becomes obvious the curators did not intend to reach out to the whole BDSM and fetish scene. This, of course, actually makes sense because people living their fetishes are not concerned with understanding fetishism or removing existing dogmas anymore. The festival in my view is meant as an introduction into this world, for people who are new to and interested in this topic, who want to learn about the social and political side of sexuality in general. People who are maybe also a bit curious about finding out what smaller or bigger fetish has been luring in the dark corners within themselves – and why. La Ceremonie
We attended a lecture with artist Bernadette Anzengruber and psychoanalyst Roman Widholm, who for one explained the origin of the word ‘fetish’ and the human need to objectify things, to give lifeless objects a face and a meaning in a capitalist world. Widholm mostly spoke of the political influence on determining what kind of sexuality is normal and what not, the effects of resignation of instincts, the difference between lust and enjoyment and how sexual arousal is possible. In my opinion, this lecture was a bit too abstract. It would have been more inviting for dialogue with the audience if the subject of fetishism and how sexual interests can change (or get triggered) due to certain life events would have been explained on a more psychological level. Documentary ‘Give Me Sex, Jesus!’
We went to see Sunday afternoon’s documentary “Give Me Sex Jesus” by Matt Barber (2015), a truly amazing film about how devout Christians rationalise their faith, fetishise purity over their need to have a fulfilling and happy sex life. This documentary is much more than presenting some evangelists and their struggle or their need to fulfil this task of having no sex before marriage; it shows an intriguing historical connection between sex, religion and race in the USA.
Finally we simply had to attend the Church of Turbo Loveconcert by the Lords of Romance and their very own Max Höfler, who guaranteed a crazy and enjoyable Sunday evening sermon on sex & love and everything in between. We never thought we would find hearing Scorpions “Wind Of Change” enjoyable. But there you go, thanks to Pierre Lavendel.
The idea to introduce a new audience to all the aspects of fetishism and place the topic in a positive daylight is not only very interesting, but in our opinion also important. In a world in which everything is made into something sexual – capitalism is a fetish! – and at the same genuine discussions about sex and desire are still problematic, we should take it out of the closet.