Sex Pots

Sex Pots, p. 107-108

[Jeanne Quinn]'s hermaphroditic handcrafted vessels are usually paired and presented either as mirrored images, reflecting each other, or as anthropomorphized gestures, where one vessel penetrates the other, reciprocally. Again, as with Matts Liederstam, the penetration of one vessel by the other is potentially reversible, speaking of reciprocity and the mirroring of desire as well as sexual positions in homosexual acts. This 'homomorphism' bringing two (usually much more innocent) identical objects together, creates an interesting and subversive shift from the usual anthropomorphism of pottery forms and functions. Through the workings of presentation, placement and context (a 'homotopia', my neologism, a space representing itself) and through visual analogy, the shapes become bodies, the materials become flesh and skin, the content becomes blood and other bodily fluids, and the exaggerated spouts, handles and lips are engaged in intimacy, physical contact and exchange. By using these familiar and quotidian shapes, she presents us alternatively with images of normality and ordinariness, yet opens our imagination to more disturbing interpretations. The seduction of the sensual forms and the masterful tactile handling of the materials all reinforce these connotations.

Sex Pots, p. 175-176

In the United States, Jeanne Quinn develops this notion of mirroring and coupling as binary division in her assemblages of teapots, cups and saucers and other more ambiguously-defined vessels . . . . By engaging these objects in situations where they touch, hold, and penetrate each other, in pairs that reflect and mirror, they instantly become substitutes for human bodies. While there is a direct and clear reference to use and function, the context 'promotes meaning over use', by speaking about gender and sexuality and sexual identity. She says that she is 'constantly fascinated by the idea that the same object, looked at from different points of view, can speak about the essential nature of opposite genders. This argues for the idea that each of us, within ourselves, contain attributes of multiple genders.' In her teapots, the exaggerated spout reinforces the potential for pouring, transferring and giving, while the 'function of the cup, in relation to pouring, is to receive'. The cup can then be brought to the mouth in another gesture of transference, with its own loaded connotations and implications. She 'resents these objects as metaphors with which to explore the great delicacy and variety of human relationships'. Yet, the 'homomorphism' of the shapes presented as pairs constitutes a 'homotopia' (as space representing itself), invoking new concepts to discuss, interpret and understand the complexity of this type of investigation. Homotopia operates in a blurring of the image/object relation where the object is altogether image and the image is object, without distinction. I use the words 'image' and 'object' here in a conceptual context, where an image (art) is purely visual and separates us from reality (for example, all sculpture is image because it operates conceptually in purely visual terms), while objects (craft) unite us with reality, through touch and direct bodily experience of making and using, even if vicariously. At the same time, it could be argued that craft objects blur the (historical) distinction between object and image by operating simultaneously on both levels. While constructed around these concepts, Jeanne Quinn's works 'slow down, materialize, sensualise and eroticise the everyday'; and her 'aim is to sensitise us to our impermanence, our state of being and becoming'.

- from Sex Pots, by Paul Mathieu. Piscataway, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2003. Published simultaneously by A & C Black, London; Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern.