Thursday, 23 June 2016


If every film is, in fact, a documentary, in that it serves as a document of the creative process that engendered it, specifically that of the creation of the images on screen, Peter Tscherkassky's The Exquisite Corpus is not merely a documentary film but a documentary of film. And while many artists have previously legitimized this medium via suggesting and stressing its value in both reflecting and informing many aspects of the way we live our lives, few non-pornographic films have ever truly tackled that most integral aspect: sex. In bucking the trend, Tscherkassky's film not only documents sex on film but actively participates in it - film is a physical object in The Exquisite Corpus, manipulated in its physical form in order to engage in the processes it depicts. It forms a tactile, tangible link between the titillation on screen and the titillated before it, occupying the formerly blank space between the patently unreal softcore that is the zero point of Tscherkassky's content and the inevitably real arousal that it inspires. We now not only watch but feel, transcending the voyeurism that often marks the destination en route to making sense of our response to erotic art. The Exquisite Corpus is a full corpus of sensory immersion, imitating the seduction within itself and the arousal within its audience in a most vivid, all-consuming manner. This remarkable engagement with the language of eroticism, both in art and in life, makes inferences that few artists dare to, framing sex as an insatiable, unstoppable, unavoidable essentiality; the film literally speeds up, slows down, warps, dies, commits its every act of existence in sex. Its images depict the full body as a sexual object, its structure presents all of life as a sexual experience, its rhythms imitate the throbbing, thrilling repetition of sexual excitement. The Exquisite Corpus is one of the most intelligent, invaluable works of cinematic art - erotic or not - in recent years.