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By David Finkelstein | November 2, 2008

“Speechless” is constructed from medical stereoscopic stills of women’s clitorises (all healthy), in extreme close-up. The stereo images alternate rapidly, creating a slight illusion of depth, and also a sense of quivering life. Occasional fingers in the image are suggestive of ecstatic self-pleasure. These images are also rapidly intercut with stereo images of leaves, grass, mud, earth. Scott Stark has an uncanny way here of choosing images so that the depressions and patterns in the plants and rocks are suggestive of the folds of flesh in the genital images with which they are intercut, creating a powerful sense that the vulva and the earth have fused together into one entity. The images, at times, also rotate or move towards the viewer. Greg Headley’s music with its long, sustained tones balances nicely with the constant quivering of the images.

“Speechless” feels to me primarily lyrical, like an ecstatic poem to the female genitals as the awe-inspiring, mythic symbol of the fertile, generative force in the universe. The female body is seen intermixed with images of the fertility of the soil, of Mother Earth. It was also interesting that the extreme close-up of the clitoris images, probably a bit closer than one would experience even in the most intimate of acts, acted effectively to de-emphasize their sexually arousing effect and make the images more poetic and evocative, at the same time that they are even more powerful in their sheer physicality.

Why is the piece called “Speechless?” Perhaps the title is asking: if these labia could speak, is this what they would be saying? Women’s sexuality has long been a taboo subject. Also, frankly, the power of these images is so overwhelming that they may leave viewers (especially heterosexual men and lesbian women) feeling speechless.

Stark has certainly made a controversial choice of imagery. Explicit images of female genitals are guaranteed to affect viewers powerfully and personally, and these feelings will be innately different for different viewers, depending on their gender as well as on their sexual orientation. He is guaranteed to have many different kinds of responses to his video.

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