To my readers......

Normal Posting will now be resumed following my break. Thanks for visiting mitchmen! (Mar 12th 2017)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Ulf retrospective - The Year 2001 - The Frontier Series

My article on Ulf's work from 2001 omitted a notable series of images set in the "Wild West'' era against the background of the conflict between the Native Americans and the Frontiersmen and US Government who sought to appropriate and exploit their homeland. 

 
In this series the 'Indians' (if I can use that term as shorthand*) take their revenge in a variety of ways and this urination humiliation is one of the milder ones. If you've read Ulf's blog you will know that he has a keen political awareness and there's a fairly unambiguous message here conveyed by the Indian's heroic pose and the fiery background, succinctly symbolising the erupting anger of his people.

Ultimately though in this picture political message loses out to erotic entertainment. This Indian's nordic features and muscularity seem less than authentic and, for a gay audience, his enlarged cock puts him into the category of hunted trophy rather than feared, superior being. Likewise, the piss spray which he is unleashing probably dilutes(!) his outrage for us rather than amplifying it. If you invert the image you'll see his victim's expression is almost blissful too!

In this picture Ulf invokes the terrifying, scalping-renegade stereotype much beloved of white literature and films but thankfully from my point of view he spares us the blood and gore, contenting himself with posing the threat and capturing the young victim's dismay which he does rather impressively. Although this series of images has a somewhat 'staged' feel about it, you can see Ulf is striving here to make his characters interact, both dramatically and erotically.


Drama aplenty here driven visually by the Indian's lunging pose. This is the only picture in this series where Ulf's 'labels' the captive with 'cowboy' clothing - hat, belt and boots (click to enlarge). He seems more mature than the other victims too, which for me adds to the intensity of the encounter but also makes him a more appropriate object of the Indian's 'justified revenge' against the white man. He seems to be acknowledging and enduring his terrible fate sadly, but quite stoicly. You might see echoes of Christian martyrdom in this imagery, deflecting guilt back to the persecutor, except that this man is clearly preoccupied with the painful present, possibly the guilty past but certainly not the well-earned Paradise that lies beyond.

There's some confusion of intent in the detail around the flaming brand in the centre of this picture. The Indian seems to be grasping the hot end of it and there's an odd vertical stick too which I can't interpret. It's as if Ulf has made some last minute changes here, pulling back from a more explicit image. (See discussion in 'comments' below)


I have cropped this image, which in it's full form shows a burning at the stake which I think is a little too vivid for display in this blog. The mounting fear of the victim as the flames rise around him is amazingly captured. However, although fear and sexual arousal can be linked - survival of the species and all that - his erotic response here is pure wishful thinking and fantasy. 

The youth of this victim makes him seem quite undeserving of the Indian's anger although I must confess his near-porcine fleshiness does lend his gruesome fate an intriguing, dark aptness. The captor, however, is revealed to have a base, sexual motivation - underlined by his awkward pose and ugly, mean expression. This picture completely lacks any sense of the virtuous revenge, which I attributed to the first image in this article. Instead we see beauty, innocence and virtue vindictively destroyed which is almost the reverse motivation. Oddly enough the protagonist's skin colourings are reversed too. I doubt Ulf did that deliberately but it seems to be an appropriate closing of the circle of hate and an unintentionally perceptive reflection on the barrenness of arbitrary revenge.

Back in the fantasy, I would hope that with his lust duly slaked the captor is willing to spare this beautiful creature for more rewarding porking pursuits. (Compare with  Sergey's less ambiguous outcome and other immolation imagery referenced in that article)

*****

This is the earliest series by Ulf with a common theme which I have been able to identify. In it there seems to be an intense if slightly unfocussed outpouring of anger and energy and in this it's not untypical of this period in Ulf's art. This subject seems to have had special significance for him but I don't think he ever returned to it in later years. He's still refining his technique here but the power of the imagery comfortably exceeds those limitations. As far as I know there are 8 images in this series and I will be posting the full set as a temporary exhibition at my Yahoo! group in the next few days.

Ulf has a blog The Ulfian which is an interesting mix of his art, political comment and selected porn.
There's also an Ulfian fan club on Google Groups which you have to join (it's free). 
The older Fan Club on Yahoo! Groups seems to be inactive now.


(To read these articles from the beginning start with Ulf Retrospective part 1

* Any discussion with racial ingredients these days is fraught with linguistic pit-falls and faux-pas. In the UK 'Native' is probably seen as a more derogatory term than 'Indian' is. I hope that my readers are able to realise that these words are used here as convenient, collective nouns and not with any intent to maliciously label or denigrate the individuals belonging to that group.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In respect of the third picture, where you mention a 'flaming brand' that is not present!

In the enlarged image, the Indian is holding the handle of a knife which extends under the captives testicles. I also do not see what you refer to as an 'upright' rod unless it is the spike which is inserted into the victim's urethra. The penis is also pierced by two crossing spikes and there is a suggestion that the victim's right thigh is pierced by two pieces of something, hence the blood immediately above the hand of the Indian.

Mitchell said...

Yes I can see the knife now, thanks for the guidance! The upright rod I was referring to is what you describe as 'something piercing the thigh' (plus shadow). My doubt was caused by the colour of the 'blood', which looks more like the colour of fire to me, but you could well be right about that too.