Collection of 20 Magazine Actions. Cosey Fanni Tutti, Throbbing Gristle.
Collection of 20 Magazine Actions
Collection of 20 Magazine Actions

Collection of 20 Magazine Actions

Np: 1976-1981. Np: 1976-1981. United Kingdom: Various, c. 1976-1980.

A substantial collection of Cosey’s appearances in pornographic magazines, some of which, when exhibited as part of COUM’s 1976 exhibit at the ICA, Prostitution, caused widespread outrage and debate in parliament, with MP Nicholas Fairbarn calling the group “The Wrecker’s of Civilization”. Ironically, in an exhibit filled with provocative works, it was these magazine clippings that seemed to cause the most consternation.

According to Coum’s press release for the exhibition, “”Cosey has appeared in 40 magazines now as deliberate policy. All of these framed form the core of this exhibition. Different ways of seeing and using Cosey with her consent, produced by people unaware of her reasons, as a woman and an artist, for participating. In that sense, ‘pure views’”. [quoted in Ford, 6.20]

The exhibition made Cosey and Genesis into household names overnight. MP Nicholas Fairbarn subsequently visited the exhibition and denounced the group as “the wreckers of civilization.” Ironically, it was the magazine clippings which caused the greatest outrage, and instead of exhibition the ephemera together, the magazine clippings were stored in white bins, and could only be viewed one at a time by visitors.

The genius of Cosey’s magazine actions lie in the way they utilized the medium of porno mags, one of the most overt spectacles of the male gaze. “The problem for Tutti lay in how she could investigate pornographic imagery and present her findings without merely reproducing that culture’s prejudices and values. In the context of the initial publication of the magazines themselves Tutti could not escape being ‘reduced’ to the role of an interchangeable fetishized object of the private male sexual fantasy. But where Tutti’s roles were multiplied, as in the public exhibition, to become both subject and object, artist and model, viewer and viewed, the work became difficult to consume as pornography. “ [Ford 6.26]

Cosey sometimes appears under her own name, sometimes even with biographical references to her life as an artist, and in a couple of cases with reference both to Genesis P-Orridge’s ongoing mail art censorship trial and to the ill-fated ICA exhibition. One one case, Genesis is also pictured in erotic poses with her and described as her boyfriend. Cosey sometimes appears pseudonymously, however and her appearance is sometimes altered.

The magazine appearances are difficult to track down, given that there is no bibliography of them, and the images have not been compiled. The issue numbers are a closely guarded secret among collectors. Item #25567