Anthony Thornton Reviews Ariana Reines’s The Origin of the World

“Immediately her word became accomplished fact.” Eve’s summoning of her golem Adam and imbuing him with a soul in the Gnostic text “On the Origin of the World,” could very well describe Ariana Reines’ formidable, alchemical touch in the arenas of poetry and theater. Printed on the back cover of her latest dispatch, The Origin of the World, this terse coda is countered by the publication’s opening disclaimer: Opus Imperfectum. Nonetheless, Reines doles out plenty to ruminate on.

A preliminary salvo of crudely xeroxed images depicting the biblical Doubting Thomas (sampled from the canon of Christian art) glide into Reine’s purposeful conflation of sight and touch: the eye’s potential for penetration. The Origin of the World also alludes to L’Origin du Monde, Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting of his female model’s torso and genitals. Reines suggests an adaptation of Courbet’s nude (and of the aforementioned Gnostic text) with a performance at Stuart Shave Modern Art in July of 2012; the draped white sheet in the painting has vanished in lieu of a tarantula to wander her unclothed recumbent form. Performance stills depict Reines languidly undulating to a pre-recorded reading of “On the Origin of the World” for the opening reception of Shave’s exhibition of Tom of Finland drawings. Reines subverts the framed displays of perpetual tumescence in the same manner in which she navigates hetero-social experiences narrated within the publication: through measured, kind emasculating of the men who orbit her.

Anthony Thornton, review of Ariana Reines, The Origin of the World, Semiotext(e), 2014. Available at the Bureau.