As “Cinema Vezzoli” exhibit closes today at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, this majestic YouTube video of swinging testicles triumphs, surviving six whole days without being censored — though “NSFW” has been added to the title, as well as a Community Guidelines disclaimer.
In “The Return of Bruce Nauman’s Bouncing Balls,” Francesco Vezzoli casts porn star Brad Rock in a reprisal of “Bouncing Balls,” Nauman’s 1969 close-up video of his own bouncing testicles. As Nauman’s work was itself an ironic reference to his earlier film “Bouncing Two Balls Between the Floor and Ceiling with Changing Rhythms” (1967-68) Vezzoli’s sweeping skyline and Mozart soundtrack make his video a remix twice removed—a glamorous and satirical twist on Hollywood techniques.
The Hollywood stylizations of Nauman’s gritty projection-specific piece as well as the participation of a professional performer with exceptional scrotal flexibility makes for quite solid satire. Its very unabated existence on YouTube brings about questions of subjective notions of so-called decency, in its application to what is known as adult content. It also brings about some expected self-imposed trials of masculinity and ephemeral inquiries on art and its meaning, as expressed by the commenters:
Mankind has failed miserably. This is just going too far.
You just watched a dudes balls swinging, stared at his asshole, for 8 minutes.
I now understand everything as well as nothing.
But one exchange in particular places focus to an important issue of art-specific subjective censorship:
This is so going to be removed.
It will stay because…Art. lol
Some of our readers may remember how Petra Cortright’s VVEBCAM video was pulled from YouTube for being tagged with “boobs” and “vagina” though featuring neither boobs nor vagina in the video content itself. Cortright has grown to be a very well known digital artist, but the initial shafting from YouTube’s overenthusiastic censors lent her some ironic notoriety. It’s a bit surreal to watch these balls swinging so proudly and fearlessly, knowing that a highly respected cultural institution is legitimizing them from behind.