Why TITTIPUSSIDAD Is this Season’s Mother Lode of Art Books

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TITTIPUSSIDAD is magical storytelling. The book, by artist Sarah Lucas and photographer Julian Simmons, documents the time Lucas spent in Oaxaca, Mexico, preparing for her exhibition at the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli in Mexico City. An Aztec-fascist monolith built to house Rivera’s collection of more than 50,000 pre-Columbian objects, the Museo Diego Rivera was as much ahead of its time as it was outside of time: constructed in the 1930s, it preceded the National Museum of Archeology by nearly three decades, yet its collection is organized with no regard to region, epoch, or culture; its arrangement is purely aesthetic, disregarding the items’ history and makers. “Objects surviving from ancient times have lost much of their sense, but none of their power. What is this power?” asks Lucas in TITTIPUSSIDAD, which is itself a work that defies sense with power – it’s a section-sewn hardback of 684 edge-colored pages and 705 photographs that chronicle two weeks of the artist’s work. Arriving just after an earthquake had shaken the Zapotec region of southwestern Mexico, rekindling the local volcano, Lucas said, “This place was one hell of a hub of weird energy, intention … it rubbed off, conducted, got in the veins, as did the chili and the grasshoppers.”

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An oral and photographic diary, TITTIPUSSIDAD both shows and tells how Lucas created her work in direct response to Rivera’s collection and the mausoleum that houses it; it’s where the artist found the indigenous bricks she used as bases for her “Nuds” – foam-stuffed nylon tights that are manipulated into Kama Sutra puppets or appendages capable of assuming any pose, including self-penetration. “Tights that make our legs, teddy-bear fluff that make our children, blocks that make our homes, cigarettes that make our thoughts; eternity, future, duration, present,” writes Simmons in TITTIPUSSIDAD. These are fantasy materials, conjuring in us dreams of sex, fairy tales, ideal homes, elevating notions, or the inverse: transgression. “Not a religious thing, not something to be yoked to, more of an illuminating breakthrough, a true emergency,” continues Simmons. “Finding the transparent life in what is inanimate and opaque, you thought that was impossible.” Lucas wraps her “Nuds” around toilet seats or has them emerge from bowls, like scatological or sexy, unsexed pets. As the story of TITTIPUSSIDAD (or, psychoanalytically: Titti-Pussi-Dad) unfolds, Lucas invites us to behold the threshold of sculpture and time: something conscious yet elusive, remembered yet never actually witnessed, ephemeral yet mythic, historical, and catalogued.

TITTIPUSSIDAD is published by Sadie Coles HQ (London, 2013). 
Contemporary Fine Arts gallery in Berlin will launch the title on June, 12, from 6-8pm, followed by the premiere of Lucas and Simmons’s companion film REALIDAD.
www.juliansimmons.com

Art 128Book Club 12
Julian Simmons
Photography 46
Sarah Lucas