The Act of Smoking, and A YouTube Trouble

A rather unpleasant update as per 13 Dec 2008:

I have just found out that the English version of the video which was in this post has been taken down on YouTube for “the violation of Community Guidelines”. Here is the screen grab with the message:

Interestingly, clicking on any of the hyperlinks takes me to precisely the same page telling me about the violation of guidelines. I am expected to acknowledge it, but I cannot acknowledge something when I don’t know what it is. It never occurred to me to save YouTube Community Guidelines to a file, and when I google “youtube community guidelines” and click on the relevant link, I once again see the violation message. I am happy to acknowledge my fault, if there is any indeed, but I need to understand exactly what I did wrong. Unfortunately, YouTube sends me the message about guidelines’ violation, but it doesn’t offer me an option to communicate with them, to find out what was wrong. The video in question is my original work, it is my poem translated into English by myself. The video does use other artists’ images (who are all credited), to illustrate the idea, but over two years ago I quoted an extract from Adrian Darmon’s interview with Andy Warhol, in which the subject of plagiarism was briefly discussed:

AD: Where do you find yourself vis-a-vis Picasso?
AW: He’s dead, and I’m in his place. On the artistic level, I think I’ll be a milestone.
AD: Do you take yourself seriously?
AW: I’m doing things seriously, with aesthetic taste.
AD: And without plagiarism?
AW: I don’t understand the meaning of your question. In any case, the artists are inspired by the works of others.

To sum it up, another quote, taken from Slavoj Zizek’s book; this is what Fidel Castro said to Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban crisis: “You may be able to convince me that I am wrong, but you can’t tell me what I am wrong without convincing me”. For your reference, here is the English file uploaded to Google Videos:


22 Nov 2008

Yesterday René Magritte, the Belgian surrealist painter, turned 110. I’ll start by giving the links to a few of Magritte places online: René Magritte Museum and Magritte Foundation.

I cannot say I ever took serious interest in pin-up art, but back in 2003/2004 I had a CD with the songs from 1950-60s, and some of the pin-up images were used on the cover illustration. The day before I went to London for the first time ever – and incidentally, on the April Fool’s Day, 1 April 2004 – I suddenly envisaged a vivid similarity between Magritte’s pipe and one of those pin-up girls. And really, you cannot say they are totally dissimilar, when you look at them this way (see the images on the left and right; the image on the right is by Greg Hildebrandt).

The Russian poem was written instantly, but it was only this year that I began to think seriously of adding a video montage to it, to illustrate the whole idea. Surprisingly or not, it took Magritte to celebrate his 110th birthday upstairs for me to finally create what was rather difficult at first. I hope you enjoy the English result below.

The Act of Smoking

…………………………………..Ceci n’est pas une pipe
……………………………………………….René Magritte

That what you see is not a pipe.
Imagine: two tender feet
Enter your mouth in a slow movement,
And you breathe in a tangy aroma of sex,
Watching in front of you a beautiful head
Trembling in the fumes of passion.
And, giving in fully to love,
You mentally move your finger
From feet along the legs
Reaching to the cherished curve
Full of the finest tobacco,
Which is what you adore –
Bosom or ass –
And finally, deciding to surrender to lust,
You tightly squeeze the bosom (or ass?),
Drawing in as deeply as you can stand, –
As you can afford,
As you can –
The scent of the Belle Dame,
Of a whore, or a choir girl, or a student,
Of a music-hall dancer,
Of Justine, Mary or Greta,
And let the smoke out through your nostrils,
Relishing how the taste
Sinks deep into your stomach,
And then, taking a woman out of your mouth,
You gently slap her at the front or on the back,
Shaking off the remains of love into an ash tray
And putting the body away into a slip –
Till next time.

© Julia Shuvalova 2004
English translation © Julia Shuvalova 2008.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s