Economies of Desire: Notes on Rodney Werden's Video
Which gives the piggybank more pleasure: inserting individual coins into the little notched slot in its head or unplugging the round hole in its bottom and removing them en masse? Or possibly the slow build of weight and pressure as the coins collect in the huge hollow gut.
Rodney Werden has produced (to date) 17 videotapes, most of them between 1974 and 1987. They constitute, I think, one of the richest bodies of work in the medium — though at this time they lie largely ignored. In this essay I mean to create interest in a body of work that has sustained my interest for the last dozen years. I'll give a general overview of Werden's video work (he's worked in other media as well, most notably photography), but also focus in on specific tapes and ideas whenever it seems I've been able to formulate something relevant or interesting to say. I've divided the tapes into three categories: documentary, monologue and dramatic (which are further classified as melodramas or allegories).
The indulgence of fantasy is blocked to some degree not simply by the invocation of a desire to know, but by an awareness that the views given originate from the encounter between social actors on either side of the lens. [Bill Nichol, p77]
Pauli Schell [55", b/w, 1975]
In 1975 Werden produced his first documentary Pauli Schell. For about an hour the eponymous subject talks to an off-screen Werden about her interest in sado-masochism.
The videotaped interview with Pauli was recorded in one afternoon on three half-hour reels, half inch portapak. The camera was hand-held. The session was impromptu, but not unrehearsed. We had talked and made audio recordings on four or five occasions prior to the videotaping, which, in retrospect I think, served as a rehearsal. In the pretaping conversations we discussed everything except her father, which she refused to talk about... Pauli Schell is presented unedited and unembellished as a document of what Pauli said to an almost complete stranger on one afternoon. [Werden, 1978]
The interview, casual as it is, follows a coherent narrative trajectory. Initially, a totally relaxed Pauli reclines on a couch and plays show and tell with her whips and other equipment. The information Pauli supplies is basically technical, and while Werden is interested in technical details, he consistently directs the interview into more personal territory.
-And wouldn't that break the skin?
-Nah, it would ah, cause welts - the skin is broken by the knots, that's what breaks the skin.
-Is there much effort required to break the skin with those knots or is it just a lucky shot?
-It's probably mostly a lucky shot, but I imagine you would have to put pretty well full power into it to break the skin, you can get a sting without much effort, but ah, if you put all of your strength into it you can break the skin.
-Once the skin is broken do you like it to be continued or...
-Yeah, I'm not really aware when it's broken, 'til it's over.
-Right, but you certainly would...
-I really get a joy out of seeing it broken.
-How many times, like every lash or...
Werden wants to know exactly what Pauli does, has done, or fantasizes about doing sexually. And Pauli tells him in her charming, straightforward and intelligent manner. After discussing the equipment, what effects it produces or is capable of producing on a body, and Pauli's personal experiences and fantasies regarding this body-damaging paraphernalia, the interview moves to Pauli's usually abusive adult relationships with men. Here Werden is clearly searching for an etiology to Pauli's "disease," a beginning to her story, a reason she's resorted to a sexual life of beating and being beaten. He asks questions such as: "When did you decide you liked it?" "You mean you think you were conditioned into liking it?" and asserts, to no immediate avail, "But there still was a first experience."
Often first person narratives about sex follow a very specific trajectory. These stories, which Ken Plummer calls, simply enough, sexual stories, "converge into a childhood tale of dysfunctionality and abuse connected to 'a lost child' and a world of hidden shame and secrets." [Plummer, p105] But Schell is not interested in turning her "sexual story" into a simple tale of personal growth leading to recovery from dysfunction. Her tale, while clearly belonging to Plummer's genre of recovery sexual tales, remains sufficiently ambivalent to thwart any simplistic conclusions, whether they be moral/legal or medical/psychological.
As we know from Foucault, the production and circulation of discourses regarding sex are subject to various controls, often instituted by the medico-legal apparatus. I don't mean to suggest that Werden as interrogator is relying on one of these discourses of power to extract and structure a controllable narrative. I think he's driven by a pure and rather disengaged curiousity. This curiousity seems (to me) unknowingly attached to narrative models such as those outlined by Plummer. This first of WerdenÕs documentaries could be termed naive; as I hope to demonstrate below, other of his tapes use various strategies to break out of the institutionalized discourses of sexuality.
The following exchange takes place before the interview turns to topics of an increasingly taboo nature.
-Do you want to carve me?
-No I couldn't do it.
-I just couldn't.
-You're mostly a watcher, mostly, you don't do it.
-I think so. I don't pass judgment either. While I'm watching and listening.
-Yeah, that's okay, that's why I'm not afraid of you. What else do you want to know?
Pauli then goes on to talk about her darkest desires which include disembowellment and necrophilia. Perhaps it is Pauli's calmness and frankness which encourages Werden to ask the question she had refused to discuss in the preliminary interviews. At any rate, one question is imperative to the completion of the narrative's trajectory: "Tell me about your father."
So for the last third of the interview Pauli talks about her relationship with her father, who sexually abused her and her sisters from an early age. But even as the tape ends with the type of narrative closure necessary for a sexual story (though, as I've earlier suggested that closure is incomplete due to the subject's ambivalence), other gaps and silences emerge. We've already heard too much in this casually told sexual story, but the gaps of the final paragraph tell of even more extreme stories:
...she [Pauli's sister] told me that she does resent dad. She has a number of things in her head including the fact that she felt for a number of years that she murdered my little brother by accident, she did, I mean she was responsible for him and he died eating rat poison, she didn't watch him so she for years thought she'd murdered him, somehow or other that has become wrapped up in her mind with dad, I dunno why, so that that was what finally broke her down in university, something to do with Douglas and my father, I dunno she couldn't really speak very clearly on it for the same reason I can't speak very clearly about it.
That the narratives (sexual stories) generated seem unquestioningly complicit with what (for lack of a better term) I'll inadequately call the medico-legal apparatus, seems an unfortunate byproduct of WerdenÕs failure to critically examine his methodology — specifically, his failure to explicitly position himself as author within the documentary project. This failure is something Werden does not repeat in his subsequent works, which investigate various strategies for situating the author as desiring entity within (and outside) the work. He examines how discourse and desire can both be seen as economies, as systems of exchange that must be continually negotiated.
"I'll bet you ainÕt seen nothing like this before..."
The subject here is an older middle-aged man, naked In his living room throughout the interview/demonstration. H e talks about exploring his anus as a site of pleasure and how this has led to his ability to fuck himself. Off-camera, an audibly delighted and amazed Werden asks for detailed clarification of his subject's sexual practises. The subject (who is perversely rumoured to be Pauli Schell's father) also demonstrates how he gets pleasure by pressing his cock against the vibrating speaker of a short wave radio.
The subject presents himself as a closed loop of desire, not only physically, but psychically self sufficient.
Since I can screw myself I don't need fantasies.
The statement doesn't literally make sense — just because you can screw yourself doesn't necessarily mean fantasies are redundant. There is a deeper logic at work here, one that places the subject squarely within Werden's universe: he wants to eradicate, control all desire. He is only willing to deposit into his own bank, to recoup every expenditure without threat of loss.
Money Talks Bullshit Walks [36", colour, 1986]
Werden's latest documentary is more complex, messier than his previous ones. This is (partly) due to the increased number of subjects, the increased density of editing, and the strained, unfamiliar relationship between Werden and some of these subjects. During the winter of 1985 Werden picked up and interviewed nine street prostitutes in Toronto. The tape is assembled from various interviews, cross-cuting between subjects and, at one point, employing discontinuous sound.
Werden isn't interested in examining the social plight of the prostitute. The tape does not agitate for social change, or empathetically examine the plight of an oppressed social underclass. I think that's what Werden is referring to when he states that the work is "non-political." Of course, Money Talks is not non-political (whatever such a thing might entail). It is profoundly political in its examination of the interflow of money, desire and power. While Werden's earlier documentaries are recuperable as being socially conscious or politically engaged — at the very least his candid portraits could be seen as carrying out the utopian project of sexual liberation by throwing light on what evil and repressive forces have, as a means of control, kept us from knowing and communicating. But Money Talks eradicates the possibility of any such interpretation. This is largely because Werden, at every opportunity, foregrounds the complexity of his relationship with his subjects. Werden recreates the dynamics of the act of prostitution under the rubric of the "simple" interactive documentary.
As the video opens, a prostitute walks I front of the camera and asks, "Just like this?" Werden, off-camera, "No, actually as naked as possible, if you don't mind." And so all of his subjects appear naked, either on a couch, or sitting on a stool in front of a large map of the world. Werden also incorporates material which foregrounds his interaction with the subjects that would not (that is: could not) be included in a more traditional documentary. At one point he enters the frame to locate Guyana — the birthplace of one of the girl's boyfriend/pimp — on the map-of-the-world backdrop. As well, particularly toward the end of the video, the camera tends to stray from the normalized subject (the talking head, with body language included only for emotional clarifications, such a cut-aways of wringing hands) to "inappropriate" framings: a particularly large set of breasts, phallic microphone against a thigh.
But the video moves toward one scene: the money shot. This is the only scene in which the sound is not continuous with the image. A young man (though working as a woman) apparently too shy to speak, averts his gaze from the camera and quickly masturbates. The dialogue we hear occured prior to the masturbation, but we don't realize this until the end. The subject apparently does not know why Werden has asked him to appear naked in front of the camera. Confused, he jerks off. But in his mistake he arrives at that which was desired. He reveals the true economics of the interviewer /subject relationship. He does what he can to hold our interest. In the last line of the scene Werden, on seeing the boy begin to jerk off, tells him to hold on while he puts in a new tape.
I'm Sorry (5", b/w, 1974), Call Roger (11", b/w, 1975)
Werden's first video is a simple demonstration of a particularly narrative sexual fetish: spanking a bad boy. It consists of two shots. In the first someone writes "I'm Sorry, Rod" (perhaps on a mirror, its hard to tell with the extremely low-resolution video image) and the camera pans so we see the person who wrote the message (Werden himself) naked and moving to lie down. The pan ends on his buttocks, which begin to be whipped. Earlier inaudible dialogue identifies the punisher as female, but we never see her. The video focuses on the whip and Werden's then-perfect buttocks. In fact, the second shot, which is stationary, cuts even closer to "Rod's" buttocks. The whip comes down at irregular intervals, the buttocks and thighs flinch as it strikes, the ass gets red, the video ends.
Call Roger begins with a newspaper add for a male prostitute: "Male model available for nude drawing and photography. Call Roger." The rest of the video consists of Werden posing naked as if for pretty boy porn photos. The video progresses from head and shoulders to full body shots. Werden has the demeanor of a pro — he's calm, self-assured, compliantly blank. (It helps that he has the face and body of a pin-up boy.) The soundtrack consists of taped telephone conversations with prospective johns. Initially Werden is hesitant in answering some of the questions, but soon he can automatically respond to all the basic questions — "Are you gay?" and, more complicatedly "What do you look like?"
The audio documents the complicated negotiations required for a successful transaction. The client wants to know if Roger will fulfill their desires. This requires determining what Roger himself is "into." Of course, disclosing exactly what they want to Roger will shift the balance of power in the transaction. And Werden as Roger is interested in determining how desirable, how marketable he is by viewing himself through the partially hidden desires of these possible clients, as well as getting the information necessary to estimate the feasibility of an actual transaction. (At one point, he must repeatedly assert how docile he is, a doubly coded question/request.) Of course Werden is also interested in getting good material for his video. One gets the feeling, as with the documentaries, that Werden is genuinely curious about the extent and nature of sexual transactions occurring in Toronto.
Call Roger is an experiment in gauging some of the flows of power and desire. Prostitution and sado-masochism, as in most of his videos, are the main concerns of this economist of desire. Both videos take Werden's body, made powerful by its deliberately authored abjection, as the main source of its visual material. They are in a sense autobiographical, though constructed in such a way that they thwart, even as they engage, the confession. I call them monologues because the author and subject coincide physically, asking the question: Why would Werden portray himself this way? In this way each of the videos enunciates, in the manner of an ironic monologue, a subject with a direct, though slippery (that is: ironic), relationship to an author.
Typist (18", colour, 1976)
In all of the works I've called monologues, the subject speaks, but never directly. The enunciation, the monologue, is always mediated, as well as being further situated by its relationship to the author (or, to me more precise, the implied author). In I'm Sorry, "Rod" speaks through his re-enactment of a particular ritual for the camera. In Call Roger, Roger can only respond to the libidinous questions of possible clients; he can only speak through their desire.
Typist provides us with the first-person story of a career typist. To the sounds of rock hysteria (I think it might be Dick Clark reporting on the Beatles arriving in America) Werden and a guitarist walk onto a stage. Werden sits at a table with a typewriter, the guitarist steps up to a microphone. "Ready? Alright. 1, 2, 3, play." And Werden begins typing, accompanied by the guitarist who also doubles as vocalist, singing various ooooo's and aaaah's. Werden types, for the next 17 or so minutes, the life history of a typist. The story is typed on a continuous roll of paper that is revealed to us in various wipes and keys that, at the time, must have been some pretty fancy video effects.
Its hard not to identify the narrator of the story with Werden — after all its Werden himself demonstrating his capability as a typist. In the final credits Werden takes steps to both identify himself with the narrator and separate himself. He says the video was written by Rod — all other credits, including his as author are both first and last names. Is this the same Rod who signs the note in I'm Sorry ? It seems Werden has created a character, "Rod," closely identified yet distinct from its author. The typed monologue follows the pathetic and funny adventures of a young man whose self-esteem is wrapped up in his proficiency at his chosen career: typist. "Only standard typewriters are capable of the very earthy eccentricities which make them personal friends." Another autobiographical monologue of abjection, masterfully presented. It imitates a frequent pose of comedians who create abject aliases of stupid, clumsy, maladjusted losers, but manipulate them so brilliantly, we are never really fooled into thinking the comedians themselves are ever anything less than in control.
AM Radio Was His Only Friend (17", b/w, 1977)
In AM Radio Was His Only Friend, Werden orchestrates a more complicated monologue of abjection. For seventeen minutes the images consist of an extreme genital close-up various sex acts (fellatio, cunnilingus, fucking) between a man and a woman. Because it's shot on an old black and white porta-pak, the images lack even the limited glamour of proficient pornography. About the first 2/3rds is silent, then a monologue begins — a description of a man's personality spoken by a woman. The narrator is conditionally situated as being the analyst of the central character who is presumably some conflation of implied author, Rod, and Werden himself. However the monologue itself isn't clinical — it's more or less devoid of analytical jargon — so the conceit of the analyst/narrator is largely a structural rather than substantive fiction. Instead, it's fairly clear that the monologue is a non-professional self-examination. Indeed, it begins by acknowledging its double life as a fictional narrative confession (or self-examination) situated as an analyst's case history.
This narrative has a purpose. The purpose of this narrative is to analyze this person's constant state of depression. This analysis was prompted by a realization that this depression is centred around a fear and is the biggest and most permanent crisis of his life.
The monologue centres around the question: Why can't I be happy? The answer doesn't lie in any examination of the subjectÕs masochism, but this masochism, while not being the problem, is symptomatic of the actual malaise/disease the monologue works to identify.
The examination of his sexual practice and fantasy, revealed that he preferred the fetishistic role of the servant. This was not an [inaudible word] obstacle, but he felt this to be revealing in the specific, and [as well being] indicative of his general outlook. Although his sexual performance and politics accurately reflected his personality, I felt that his approach to money shed a more revealing light on his situation since he used his lack of money as a rationale for being depressed.
In the last half of the monologue the narrator discusses the subject's relationship to his art projects.
Every project he attempted, particularly art projects, exceeded his economic capabilities, consequently guaranteeing failure at some stage. A project produced within his physical and economic capabilities, presented without excuses would be far more susceptible to criticism or rejection than a work presented cloistered in technical criticism. The specific root of his fear was intellectual criticism.
This turn identifies the subject as an artist, further triggering the likelihood that Werden is positioning himself or alter-ego Rod as the subject of this video. It also identifies the video as being self-reflexive, though only if we consider the subject to be closely connected with the author. As with Typist, Werden keeps this most important realtionship ambiguous. Werden never lets his subjects' monologues be delivered from their own mouths — the monologues are always positioned as having been produced somewhere in the area between author and subject. In effect he, time and again, devises new ways to keep the area between author and subject highly charged by obliterating the monologue's usual conflation of subject and narrator. In Werden's monologues we do not have a subject who speaks, we have a subject and we have speech, but the relationship between the two is structurally separated.
But this reflexivity becomes trickier as we proceed. As the monologue, this self-analysis of the author/alter-ego, focuses on issues of art production, it becomes apparent that this is a video that is talking about itself. As the narrator speaks of the artist's will to fail and fear of intellectual criticism, it dawns on us that we have been caught in a trap. The final lines seal us into this trap.
Every step of the way he placed obstacles in front of himself. This gave him something to focus on other than the impact or content the work would express. The content of the work would expose his intellect. He was so afraid of this that he wouldn't ever think about it and would stop at nothing to divert his, or any viewer's attention, from it.
The entire video then, is a red-herring — the pornographic images tell us nothing and are meant only to divert our attention. The work is made content-less, and therefore immune to intellectual criticism, by its use of strong, taboo, and relentless imagery. Where psychoanalysis and its various offspring look to sexuality to define the individual, to tell us the truth about desire and happiness, Werden gives us close-ups of sexual activity that, even if we assume its the video's subject depicted doing the fucking, tell us absolutely nothing. Yet at the same time, of course, this admission steers us in exactly the opposite position.
The video also seems like a send-up of experimental film and video. Endlessly long and repetitious, it crushes any "radical" power the subversive images might carry by repeating them until they become merely boring, completely empty of any significance until the monologue comes along to re-coup their meaning. Yet the monologue itself insists that the images are supposed to be inane.
Say (3", b/w, 1978), May I, Can I (6", b/w, 1978)
In Say, a woman sits on a chair holding a glass of wine and a cigarette. A voice off-camera (Werden's) says "Say" followed by a series of words that the woman repeats. These are the words:
mouth, tongue, slippery, teeth, shoulder, fingers, moist, salty, snug, hard, full, nipple, back, front, side, cheek, hurt, pull, grip, toes, spread, big, little, breath, knees, stomach, squeeze, bud, open, push, relax, rim, circle, hold, hot, lips, hood, down, up, firm, light, quick, ache, pain, please, please, please, drink, water, warm, ease, contract
The words outline a narrative of a sado-masochistic sexual episode. (Throughout the essay I've used the term s/m to refer to a wide spectrum of activities that would include bondage and domination.) It is a narrative that supplies no character positions — we can't determine who's doing what to whom. Also missing are direct references to genitals, so we cannot even determine the sex of the characters. Instead we are presented with an oblique re-enactment of the pornographic story. The verbal exchange between Werden and his subject corresponds, with its flows of power and desire, to some of the narratives generated by the stream of words. I've said Werden's monologic tapes separate the monologue from the subject who speaks them. Say is the most direct example of this — it contains the simplest structure Werden uses to separate speech from speaker. It also keys us into the possibilities that such a separation may have in producing pleasure.
May I, Can I is the last of the monologic tapes proper. If in Say the subject's speech is reduced to repeating what the author tells her to, in May I, Can I the subject is not even allowed to speak. Instead she stands naked on a stage as, off-screen, a number of voices tell her to do different things, examining her for, as the publicity material states, "agreeability." These orders include "Show us your teeth." "Stick your tongue out." "Bend over. Spread your cheeks." The video does not resolve whether the subject is indeed agreeable. Instead it simply ends with the offscreen chorus of examiners merely saying "Thank you."
This tape ends Werden's work in the monologic form. I am tempted to conclude that his exploration ended because he exhausted his possibilities moving from I'm Sorry and Call Roger through to the extremely complex Typist and AM Radio to end up at the stripped down ground zero of Say and May I, Can I. There's probably some truth in that, but I think also the times were changing and such videos were falling out of acceptability. The professional video artist in Toronto was pressured into producing slicker work in order to maintain status. Single shot videos done with a Sony black and white porta-pak didn't cut it any more.
YES (36", colour, 1981), Blue Moon (14", colour, 1983)
Like much science fiction, YES is thinly disguised social satire. At an unspecified time in the future the state has set up "pleasure stations" in order to "control sexuality." This tape is unique among Werden's work in that it presents us fairly directly with his theories on the commodification of desire. Unfortunately these theoretical underpinnings to the satire are inconsistent and underdeveloped (half-baked). First Werden posits a force (the government) that represses sexuality. These repressed desires are always, apparently, fetishistic, or at least are forced into that form when they return from their repression. This assumption is in itself hardly surprising — desire's most commodifiable form is the fetish.
More troubling is Werden's inconsistent view of repression itself. On the one hand Werden sees it as a counter-productive force externally applied by institutions of authority as a method of control over a pure and natural sexuality. On the other hand he sometimes flips repression around and uses it as possible internal mechanism for producing pleasure out of fetishism. In any other type of narrative this ambiguity might be rich. Indeed other of Werden's tapes successfully revolve around this ambiguity, taking it as a point of tension. But in satire — which depends on more or less clearly defined targets — the ambiguity kills the narrative. YES ends up being a satire that can satirize nothing. Its nominal targets of evangelists, television and a couch-potato society of lazy fetishists float through the proceedings without the context that might make them meaningful.
Embedded in the tape are a few interesting psycho-sexual vignettes which demonstrate Werden's struggle with providing a dramatic (that is fictional) way to present the type of material he dealt with in the documentaries. (This struggle comes to fruition when Werden employs the form of the allegory.) My favourite scene demonstrates a queasy kind of polymorphous sexuality: rubber-gloved hands insert a tube into a balloon and slowly inflate it with water, kneading and rubbing the engorged rubber, playing with its nipple-like end.
In Blue Moon Werden tries his hand at the melodrama with increased success. Blue Moon has much higher production values than YES, the acting is consistently good and the narrative is perfectly coherent. Still, its a weak work. During a break from their jobs each of the two protagonists, actress and director, "undertakes a transgressive role reversal." [Paterson] The actress, stressed-out by the complicated logistics of juggling children and career, moonlights as a dominatrix. The director, tired of being the boss, begs an old acquaintance to take money for a blow job. As in most of his works, Werden is interested in examining how money, desire and power can be exchanged: the economics of desire. But in the context of the melodrama, the particular exchanges here are slight narrative material. As with his satire, it seems Werden cannot mold the melodrama to suit his concerns.
Story of Red (15", colour, 1984), Aboo (19", colour, 1987)
Story of Red tells a simple tale. A man engages the services of a prostitute who works out of a mobile recreational vehicle. "Generous woman looking for generous men who know what they want. Must be willing to travel." The prostitute presses the man (Red) to tell her what he wants. Red is unable to say exactly what he wants and consequently, instead of having sex, is let out at the side of the road, humiliated.
This narrative of a (possibly) failed negotiation re-works material Werden gathered as a documentarian. In particular, the negotiation seems like a dramatization of one of the exchanges Werden documented in Call Roger. At any rate, the script itself is a masterfully dramatic re-working of typical Werden material. This is the closest Red can get to saying what he wants.
-I like to do specific things with women that don't require any personality — I mean disregard feelings and emotions.
-What are these specific things?
But Red cannot respond, so the prostitute suggests they play "bad boy." Red is supposed to do something disgusting and then suffer the humiliation of punishment. But the prostitute is unwilling to take anything for granted — she won't let the proposed sexual act unfold, she wants to know the whole scenario, exactly what Red desires to do with/to her, in advance. "For instance, you'd have to tell me what to find disgusting." She is clear about her growing annoyance and disgust with Red. As her proposals become more straightforward — Red finds them abrasive and coarse — Red is totally silenced. These are the final lines:
-I paid you to make me feel like I failed.
-I can't make you feel anything.
If Story of Red is an allegory, as I've maintained, we must be able to decode a generalized truth about how to conduct our lives; it must have a moral. We're used to a morality that judges us most harshly when we transgress sexual mores. Werden, of course, isn't judgmental about how one might wish to conduct one's sex life. His moral concerns seem to me part of a peculiarly Canadian pragmatism, fiscally conservative. He doesn't care what we want as long as we are able to negotiate our desires — know what we want and be prepared to pay for it.
Of course the possibility exists that Red wanted to be truly humiliated. In this case his transaction was completely successful. However, its clear that this humiliation was not Red's conscious aim.
Aboo arrives at the same moral, this time removed from the sexual realm. The central character is played by same actor who played Red. He suffers the same plight in this video — he thinks he knows what he desires, what will make him happy in this life — but does not. Aboo has the feel and trajectory of one Kafka's allegories. An out of work salesman stumbles into the office of an advance travel agent for the tiny ice-cream cone shaped African country of Aboo. Although the result of a surveying error, Aboo is the site of the Garden of Eden Ñ certainly a fateful error. The salesman is hired to "sell" pilgrimages to Aboo. However the airport remains to be built, the travel brochures and all relevant details, including price, also remain to be determined. The salesman works alone in the office, making very good money, but becoming increasingly dissatisfied and bored that his labour is not really producing anything. Occasionally he gives his sales pitch to people interested in travelling to the Garden of Eden, telling them they must wait for details, but are on a list for the maiden voyage. His superior talks about Aboo's "slow growth strategy," how actual sales are unimportant because his work is "laying a foundation for the future." When the salesman tries to communicate with other offices for Aboo travel, he never gets a reply. One day he is shown a film of the construction of the Abooian airport's runway: a single man is arranging rounded rocks to fit together.
Pig and Bear go to market [13", 1993]
His final work to date is a beautiful allegory fit for all ages. Two characters, Pig and Bear, decide to become entrepreneurs. Their reltionship (to each other, their commodity and money) parallel the flow of desire and control in previous works. Here, though, the flow is simple. Pig sells baked potatoes, Bear donuts. Every time one of them sells an item, they use the money to buy one of the other's wares. All day they trade the same nickel back and forth and are amazed at the end of the day that they have not made any money.