BY James Roberts in Reviews | 08 SEP 07

Jake and Dinos Chapman

BY James Roberts in Reviews | 08 SEP 07

Bringing a whole new meaning to the term 'giving head', Jake and Dinos Chapman have succumbed to the current art world fascination for celluloid and made a film. Bring Me the Head of... (1995) is a porn movie starring two professional actresses and a fibreglass sculpture. The latter, a head reputedly modelled on the features (facial) of a once-credible Italian gallerist, has a penis sprouting pinocchio-like from where his nose ought to be. This receives the considerable attention of the two actresses during the course of the brief videotape.

Porn films are not as easy to make as they may first appear: pornography is a rigidly defined genre and, while there are virtually no limits to the acts that may be depicted within its realm, there are very clearly delineated ways in which these may be articulated. Yet, Bring Me the Head of... is surprisingly successful in emulating straight porn. It is erotic, in the sense that any porn film is erotic, and it carries the attributes that mark it out as belonging to the genre. It immediately proclaims that it's a classy production ­ think Gucci loafers, think fat gold signet ring, think Paco Rabanne... The title sequence and credits are shot against a lush red velvet curtain and the typography is set in a script more commonly found on wedding invitations ­ except that it's in blow-up-doll pink. No low-budget amateur stuff here. The music is a house anthem. It's very active, it's very... up.

The acting is excellent. The two actresses know their genres ­ and gestures ­ too. Their pairing belongs to a popular category of the slightly older woman with younger girl: a heterosexual dream of toy lesbianism whose scenario of substitution and frustration ­ of stroking, touching, tonguing, dildoing and fisting ­ can only be released by a real man. But the interpretation of a real man in Bring Me the Head of... is where the film diverges from its role models and starts to deconstruct wildly. The function of the male protagonist in straight porn is carefully described. Porn actors seem to fit within two kinds of categories that, in slightly different ways, fulfil a similar function with regard to the projection of the male viewer into the filmic narrative. The first type is aspirational: well-built, good-looking, young, BIG. A kind of idealised alter-ego of the viewer that represents the way they fantasise about themselves and who can really sort those girls out. The second category is more realist: older, sleazier, BIG (but not too big) who appears as a generic, unintimidating proxy for the viewer; a kind of guy-next-door-but-hey-it-could-be-me who can still really sort those girls out. In this case, however, the porn actor is a roughly severed head, modestly endowed and with all the charisma of a BHS shop dummy. Identify with him if you dare.

Yet, the plastic head is the perfect porno actor: no need for fluffers, no wilting in front of the camera, no need to worry about him coming too soon. All he can do is perform, and, like two contemporary Salomes, the actresses in the film work on his prosthetic proboscis with immaculate attention to detail. Unsurprisingly, there is no response from his permanently erect dick, just an unchanging, slightly bemused, facial expression. Staring dumbly as he is fondled, licked, sucked and fucked, he remains utterly oblivious to the perfectly articulated expressions of desire directed towards him. If, as is so often claimed, pornography objectifies the female body, then it completely fails to allow that the male may be anything other than an object. Bring Me the Head of... makes this startlingly clear. From being a figure that grants 'pleasure' to women, the male has become a figure from whom 'pleasure' is taken, with very little say in the matter. Behind each submissive do-what-you-will-with-me look, every pleading curl of the tongue and throaty orgasmic moan for more (which he hasn't got) is the word 'sucker!'. The actresses play with him like two cats with a dead sparrow ­ as if he were literally a sex toy or novelty vibrator, while knowing full well that he is, instead, the receptacle of the male ego.

This disembodied member with a face somehow comes to represent the arrogance and frailty of male sexual desire. From somewhere within the vortex of saliva and mucus, digits and orifices, skin, silicone and synthetic resin that combine and recombine with Sadean mathematical rigour, comes the realisation that in every act of apparent submission, is domination; in every act of giving, is denial; and in every moment that the ego would believe is pure desire, is pure artifice. Headfuck.