Porneia features a selection of works by Eduardo Kac realized in the context of the Porn Art Movement, a vanguard that emerged in 1980 under a military dictatorship in Brazil and which, for two intense years, straddled the line between relentless formal experimentation and the outlying demimonde where boundary-busting gender reinvention took place. Through performances, poetry and visual works, as well as through interventions in daily life, between 1980 and 1982 Kac carried out a radical body-based program that upturned the semiotics of normative pornography at the service of activism and imagination.
“Kac is often cited, along with Stelarc and Orlan, as an artist who transgresses the boundary between human and machine, organic and artificial.”—Robert Pepperell
“Extreme innovation, the kind that requires neologisms, is something that Kac might be said to specialize in. He is also the namer of holoart, transgenic art, bioart and the plantimal, a plant infused with human genes.”—Lori Waxman, Temporary Art Review
“Kac challenges us to define and defend the borders of such artistic practices, on the one hand, and properly interpretive commentary, on the other.”—Sandy Baldwin, electronic book review
“In the grandest work at the Henry, ‘Genesis,’ Mr. Kac took the Old Testament passage, ‘Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea,’ translated it first into Morse code (an earlier example of a language of symbols invented to capture the substance of our world and circulate it) and then into the four-letter alphabet, A, T, C, G, which stands for the chemical base pairs along the ladder of our DNA. In this bizarre journey from the biblical Book of Life to physical creation, this literary DNA was then synthetically made, mixed with a sample of Mr. Kac's own, placed in a petri dish under a microscope and projected in all its purple, molecular majesty onto a darkened wall. Of course, Mr. Kac's piece does prompt the thought that perhaps some omnipotent translator led the artist (and the rest of humankind) to this level of handiwork; that once upon a time we were encoded with a system of marks, which we've finally discovered and interpret as an alphabet written into our very core. Now that we've picked up the code, we've begun our own translations.”—Steven Henry Madoff, The New York Times