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Jun 22

Kaucylia Brooke’s Piece “Tit for Twat” Censored Plus Upcoming Artist Talk in LA

Posted on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 in Current Events

I originally wrote this piece for The New Gay but their website is down so I am posting it here so it can be read.


Kaucylia Brooke’s artwork; entitled “Tit for Twat”, was censored at the Bucharest Biennale 2010. It was meant to be the centerpiece of the show but ended up not being shown at all. The piece has gay and lesbian themes. It is an ongoing project and not meant to finish. “Tit for Twat” is meant to be a master narrative about the origin of everything we know. It addresses the questions, “How do we know what we know?” and “How we decide what we know?” The piece was started in 1992.

“Tit for Twat” uses photography to explore the origin of everything we know. Instead of using photography to objectify the subject, Brooke gives the images a voice by using words. The idea is to turn the images from objects into speaking subjects to counter the idea of what they are just by looking at them.

“Tit for Twat” was inspired by talk shows in the early 1990’s. Back then, talk shows were big and trashy. I interviewed Brooke and she claimed that in order to get on a talk show that all you had to be was queer. She states that first the talk shows had the theme “These people are gay,” next it was “these are gay men who want to have children,” and finally it evolved to “femmes who like femmes.” Brooke’s said that Oprah claimed, “I don’t really understand it… I guess it’s like a four leaf clover. Once in a while, you find a special one – that’s what a gay person is like.”

The talk shows had a specific idea about having controversy which Brooke’s imitated in her piece. Controversy was made by having two people with opposing ideas. Someone would be planted in the audience from the religious right and someone on stage who represented something the religious right didn’t like. Thus born the tit for tat idea: for gay and against gay or the idea of “Tit for Twat.”

In Brooke’s piece is about the Garden of Eden and what goes on in it. She claims there are lots of things going on in the garden and they don’t all match up. There are two sets of characters in the garden. There’s Madame and Eve. There’s also Adam and Steve.

Madame and Eve’s world has nothing to do with Adam and Steve. When Madame and Eve were on the talk show, they boldly state, “Never mind Adam,” as to be a radical comment stating that’s not their world. In Brooke’s piece, the garden is bigger than what’s going on in the original narrative.

Why was such a playful piece censored? It is mind boggling that in this day and age that naked Greek statues are okay but two naked women holding hands aren’t. One idea that Brooke’s offered for possible reason behind the censorship was Romanian cultural politics. However, at the modern art museum in Bucharest there were paintings by local regional artists who used nudity and sexuality in their paintings. So, I don’t think that is it considering in eastern Europe that pornography is pretty common – as Brooke’s pointed out that pictures of people having sex is more the norm than not.

There was the claim by the director of the Geology Museum, where the piece was to be displayed, that the artwork was inappropriate for children. That in itself is a complicated thing, as to what is and isn’t appropriate for children. The other sexual charged paintings existed in the modern art museum – why not the photos at the art exhibit? Brooke’s thought it might be because photographs get different reactions then paintings. She also pointed out the figures in her photography aren’t pictures of “Angelina Jolie” – they’re not whatever contemporary culture considers to be a perfectly pluck body. They weren’t images the general population would look at or want to look at.

Brooke was willing to make compromises to show pieces of the work to just get it seen but she was told no. She was disappointed because she just wanted people to see the work.

To have an opportunity to see Brooke’s piece, “Tit for Twat” check out her web page or you can see Brooke’s giving an artist talk on June 24, 2010 at Big City Forum in Los Angeles. Brooke will be discussing ”Tit for Twat” as well as her project ”The Boy Mechanic” which documents lesbian bars.