MS: The middle section is quite fun too, where the performers stand together naked and moan together – it’s not an individual moaning, as everyone listens through headphones to the sounds of an approaching orgasm and imitates them.
MI: Yes, we call this »the orgasm choir« and it’s a kind of multiple orgasm that goes on for four to five minutes. We found out when we did this that in different countries orgasms actually sound different. In the West they have a tendency to sound a specific way, but there seems to be a difference in how different cultures express sexual pleasure. That really connects to the question of how much our sexual expression is actually something we have culturally learned. And how much they are influenced by all the films or the pornographic materials that are now easily available.
MS: Yes they are everywhere, but re-encounterinkg to come (extended) made me realize also that there is a glaring lack of diversity in visual expressions for sexual acts.
MI: Yeah, we're very used to looking at a Hollywood sex scene, and we’ve all seen it – in almost every film there’s one scene where you say, »Okay, that’s a representation of that«, but it always looks the same. I remember in the very beginning, I was busy with how sexual images are used within capitalism and within commercial economies, how sexual images are actually overflowing our visual culture and what that then does to the way we actually have sex in real life, because there is definitely a relation between the images of sex that we have available and what we actually do in our bedrooms. So for me, to come (extended) was also a piece about being aware of the impact that these desiring and affective mechanisms are having on us. How much of what I do during sexual activities is actually my own? How much is learned and how much is influenced by the images that circulate that everyone has access to? The piece is also about how to work with these collective images, to manouvre them and to create other images or other ideas about how it could be done or how it could look.
MS: There really are a lot of correspondences and I am very happy that the Ruhrtriennale audience has the chance to see both of our works – although Intime Revolution is precisely not about the visual, but about words, about the lack of language for sexuality and the attempt to overcome this with personal stories.
MI: I think when you listen to these stories, which are not so easily accessible in general, this also gives words. Because sexuality is still something that is rather difficult to talk about. Even in couples where everything is open and fine. And it is interesting how words give words, you know, how the fact of listening to words also then gives you words. I experienced it a bit with two of my other shows where I'm also speaking about sexuality, and quite often people would talk to me afterwards and tell me super-intimate things, so I’ve heard quite some stories. What I was telling on stage, all kinds of things about sexuality, were not necessarily personal stories, more historical ones. But the fact of actually creating a space to speak about it, and to give words to it, was actually producing this space.
MS: By creating a public space, you also insist on the fact that sexual practice is not only intimate and private.
MI: Usually we think of sexuality as belonging to the private sphere, but what we’ve learned post #MeToo is that sexuality also has a huge impact on the public sphere and on how the public sphere is organised. Power structures happen on all levels of politics. They happen on the level of war, but they also happen on the level of who gets to direct the country and how many women you have in the parliament. If you look at the equal pay for equal work, if you look at how many women are CEOs in companies, then it's still very much men who direct the most powerful companies and institutions. And this inequality is, of course, problematic. I have a kind of a theory that the way we practice power within the intimate sphere in relation to sexuality is something that really influences how power exists in the public sphere. The microstructures and the macrostructures for me are super-connected. And
by looking at these most intimate structures around sexuality and sensuality, I think there’s really something to learn. In to come (extended), we take activities that are usually happening in couple structures and try to put them onto a big group structure. So the sexual act which usually takes place between two people, when it gets blown up to a group, it becomes an orgy. And what does that actually mean? And inside of that, there is, for me, also a critique of the kind of structures that dominate our society in relation to how we think about pleasure, but also about family structures and about how those structures can potentially be oppressive as well. If you create a different kind of equality, or a different kind of flexibility in terms of how positions of power can shift in the intimate sphere, then I believe that this could actually potentially have an effect on how macrostructures work or operate.