Everything Is Erotic Therefore Everything Is Exhausting

by Johanna Hedva

Everything Is Erotic Therefore Everything Is Exhausting is an attempt to catalog everything erotic in the world.

It was composed in a participatory performance, and will never be complete. Begun in 2010, the text was originally 100 entries, handwritten one entry per page, by the artist. During performances, participants are invited to take away pages. In return, they had to offer their own entries by speaking into the ear of the artist. The artist serves as scribe and devoted keeper of the text. The following text comprises the complete encyclopedia to date, as it’s been written by the artist and participants.

Abscesses. The act of, the sound of, spanking. After something exhausting. All of your lover at once. Androgyny. Ankles, when they peek out. Ants on cake. Any kind of slow dripping, like water from a faucet and honey from a spoon. Anything wrapped in plastic wrap, and then unwrapping it. The appearance of blood on something clean. The arch of a slender foot. Arriving too early and having to wait. Balloon knots. Bananas, eating them in public. Being inside a car while it’s in the carwash, with the windows slightly open. Being persuaded or convinced of something that at first you feel nervous about. Being read to. Being spit on. Being strangled. Being whispered to in the dark. Bending over. Bicycle seats and how they hurt. Birthmarks and scars. A bit of shit on the dick. Bite marks. Biting someone’s ear, while holding their head with both your hands. Black holes. Blankets worn as clothes, or as the only thing to use in a cold room. Blonde chest hair. Blood sausage. Blood stains, grass stains. The blowhole of whales, dolphins, porpoises, when it contracts and spits. Blowing on the asshole. Breathing into a paper bag, and sometimes into a plastic one. Brown teeth, chipped teeth, yellowed teeth with cracks, crooked craggy teeth, teeth capped in gold, especially in a young person’s mouth. Bruises; making them on someone. The bulbs of irises. Burying your face in something. Certain words and how they’re said. Clean people with messy rooms. The clear slime of oysters and the smell of their brine. The clumps that form in sour milk. The color of tahini. The core of the earth. Corners of mouth-like things; also, specifically, the corners of a woman’s mouth. The cracking of a raw egg, especially trying holding the chalaza of a raw egg with your fingers, your teeth. The creak of old couches. Cream poured into coffee. Crushed tomatoes. Crushing a bug between your fingers, either tiny ants that feel like dust, or beetles that crack like nuts. A cut. Cut melon. The dark of the movie theatre before the movie starts. The darkening of cloth as a liquid moves through it (and how this goes slowly). Deli meat cases. Dents in sticks of butter, made by thumbs and fingers. Digging something out of a tightly enclosed space. Dirt. Dirty feet in a clean bed. Discerning the shape of bones under skin. Dissolving brown sugar crystals in coffee or tea, and how they don’t ever completely dissolve. Dogs fighting. Doors that stick, having to pull them open. Dripping water from your mouth into your lover’s, below you. Eating cherries with someone. Eavesdropping. Eyelid veins. A face rubbed in dirt. The fact that most dust is dead skin. The feeling of raw burn when water or smoke goes up your nose and into your head. The feeling of semen as it floods the back of your throat. Feeling the fuzz of lamb’s ear leaves, using the thumb and forefinger. Feeling the person sitting next to you take a deep breath. The few seconds of numbness before the pain when you’ve slammed your finger in the door. Finding piss stains in the crotch of your boyfriend’s trousers. Finding something in the sheets. Finding your lover’s hand while both of you are in a dark place, like at the opera, or from within a nightmare. A finger in a belly button. Fish guts — especially the slender, see-through bones and the thin slime of the entrails, and especially when everything is silver and pink and dark dirty red. A fish hook through a flap of skin. Fish tanks. Flakes of skin from the scalp, and the tiny holes in them for hair follicles. Flowers. The foam around the mouth of an animal with rabies. Fog horns. The gap in the front teeth, because we imagine that liquid can spurt through. Getting earwax under your fingernails. Getting the oil of chiles seeped into your fingers, then forgetting this and rubbing your eyes. A glance. Glassware with an emerald tint and a nice heavy base and a thin lip. The globes of grapefruit torn from their pith. A good mouth, as in: “his mouth was good at sucking me up,” “her mouth did a good job at swallowing all of me.” Grapes without their skins. Grime. The grit of gray flaking roof shingles. The grooves in oak bark. Guts. The hair below a man’s belly button; happy trails. Hair follicles on anything, humans, animals, plants. Half-sleeping on a hot day. Hangnails, tugging at them. Hard little round things like seed pods, cysts under the skin, stones, glass beads, peppercorns with crinkled skins, infected ducts, etc. Having to stir in the oil that’s separated from most kinds of nut butter. How a mattress gets stained. How a papercut slices the skin so truly and demurely, like a child who’s accidentally knocked over a glass vase. How saliva smells when it’s dried. How sand gets everywhere, inside everything. How the needle of the record player fits into the ridges of the LP, and the oily black of the LP itself. How the seeds in baba ganoush don’t hurt to eat. Ice melting. Ingrown hairs, how they’re curled under the skin, enwombed in there. Inhaling from a cigarette and then exhaling the smoke into someone else’s mouth. The inner elbow. The inside of thighs. Jellyfish, the way they move. Jumping on a trampoline and feeling your brain slosh around in there. Kissing someone in the wind. Kneeling. Leaning in to say something in someone’s ear. Licking a hand-rolled cigarette to close it up. Licking the rim of the ear, the nook of the armpit, and the cleft where the legs touch the ass. Lips, on humans and objects. Listening to a lover poop when she thinks I can’t hear her. Listening to stories about past lovers. Lizard skin, the kind that pricks. A loose tooth. A lot of snails moving over each other at once. Making someone scream. Making yourself ready for it. Many tiny fish. The marks left by tight underwear. Menstrual blood, especially when it’s gotten on a man’s hands or face. The minute or two after getting stung by a bee — the way the pain throbs and you can feel it push the venom from the sting to your heart. Moistening the folded edge of paper so that it becomes damp and soft and may be more easily torn. Mold fuzz. Moss. Most trips to the cinema. Mud; mud in hair. Nipples, rubbing them with the center of your palm. Not giving it to them when it’s all they want. Nuns. Octopuses. Olives, eating them with pits, the spitting out of the pit into the palm. An open mouth that’s bleeding, particularly on a boy. Opening your mouth as wide as it will go, for someone else. A pack of flying birds that all turn at once. Paint that’s flaked off doorjams, how it snaps when it’s walked on and the way this feels through the soles of shoes. Pale biceps. Parallel parking in one shot. Pawing the belly of a cat, that abandon they show you. Peaches, especially their pits. The peeling off of a hard-cooked egg’s shell, especially if some of the white gets nicked, getting smooshed under your nails and making the egg look bitten. Picking at loose skin. The place where something used to be. Plugging in a plug. Poking the yolk of a fried egg, with a piece of bread or an asparagus spear or a fork. Popping a zit. Pulling hair out of a hairbrush. Pulling a lollipop out of someone’s mouth, putting it back in; sharing a lollipop. Pushing one’s thumb to the jugular and feeling the bumping pulse. Putting the duvet cover onto the duvet, and how you have to use your whole body to do this. Putting your hand into a chicken while you’re gutting it, and pulling everything out. Putting a pin through something skin-like. Reaching into the garbage disposal to pull out something that’s not supposed to be in there. Reading in bed in the middle of the day with my clothes off, or at least partly off. Realizing that, under our clothes, we are all naked. Red welts. Right before you hit the ground. The rivulet where the edge of the nostril folds into the face. Roadkill. A rock in your shoe. The rogue solitary hairs (thick and coarse and black) on bellies, breasts, the tops of feet, and the backs of shoulders, and how they embarrass their owners, but shouldn’t. The roots of a plant growing in a glass jar. Ropes. Rubbing two things together. Scabs. Scales, or the skin of fish and snakes. A screwdriver working a screw. The scuzz of bathwater that collects around the drain. Secrets. Seeing a woman’s nipples through her shirt and realizing she is not wearing a bra. Seeing part of someone’s tattoo and realizing that, to see the whole thing, you’d have to see them naked. Semen on concrete and how it came to fall there. The shape of a relaxed hand. Sharing an orange with multiple people. Sharpening a knife. Shifting the stick shift. Sitting on a hard cock. Skins. The skin of almonds, trying to peel it off. The skin on fruit. Skinned knees. Sitting too close to someone before you’re both ready for that. The slight bend that some hard columnar things get, like the bones of ribcages, the legs of some wooden chairs, erect cocks, certain flatware and some doorhandles. Slipping your fingers into a handle. A small point of light that throbs. The smell of the ass. The smell of burning hair. The smell of a man’s hat gets when he wears it a lot. The smell of a salty blanket, that’s salty because it was slept in by a sweating man, either with his clothes on or his clothes off, so it was his dirt and grime against it, and the blanket must be thick wool, very scratchy, with bits of crusty stains and gunk in its fur. The smell of a towel that’s been used everyday but not washed for a week. The smell on my fingers from her. The snapping of a hairtie, and how it gets thready near the metal clamp before it finally gives. Snipping roses off their stems. Socks that have been sweated through, or have been poked through at their heels. Softly knocking on a door. Someone’s hands gripping your hips too hard until it hurts. The sound of a banging window. The sound of an electric drill when it’s gone on for so long that it starts to throb. The sound of a woman crying. Spitting into someone else’s mouth. Splitting open a clam: you’ve got to fit the knife inside the slit and twist. Spreading avocado or cold peanut butter on delicate bread, and how it rips the bread to shreds. Squeezing your lover’s blackheads while lying in bed. The squirming abdomens of bees when they eat. The stain from any kind of berry. The stains left by semen on things that can’t be washed. Steam coming off a lake at dusk or someone’s head in the snow. Sticking your finger in knuckle by knuckle. Stray hairs on the floor. A string of spit between a mouth and someone else’s body. Sweat. Swimming naked. Swallowing. A swollen, purple eye. The tails of rats. Taking the wax off cheese. Tan lines. Tapping the tongue on the perineum. Tasting your lover’s tears. The taste of snot, especially when it comes from crying and falls unintentionally into a mouth. The tentacles of sea plants when they move in the water. Terrariums, especially when they begin to grow fungus up the glass. That shadows follow you. That ticks burrow, even without their bodies. A thin wrist. Thinly sliced meat. The threads of saliva that form inside a quickly opened mouth. The tide. A tongue run slowly over teeth. Tongue texture. Trying to hear a very faint sound. Turning clothes, especially dresses, right side out. The underside of the tongue, and how we hardly ever see it. An unmade bed, that’s stayed unmade for days. Unwavering eye contact. Using your teeth. Very dark hair. Waiting a long time, especially for something you really want. Wasp nests. Watching a meteor shower from the back of a pickup truck, parked in the woods. Watching someone, when they don’t know you’re watching them, or when their face twitches strangely and you know they are about to cry, maybe before they know it. The water the mozzarella lives in. Waves. The way certain things sound when they hit your skull and your ears are plugged, like water from the shower or someone’s fingernails on your scalp. The way maggots move in a wound. The way the sun looks when it’s rising and you’ve stayed up all night fucking. The wedge between the fingers. What comes out when you clean under the fingernails (smell it). When a curtain or hanging sheet is caught in the wind and pushed gently in and out an open window. When a dog swallows another dog’s head. When a finger tugs hard at a mouth so that the lower lip feels a bit torn. When a man squeezes his eyes shut in cumming. When a voice cracks. When my lover wipes my nose for me, or sticks a finger into the corner of my eye to get out the gunk. When the drywall finally yields to a nail that’s being hammered in. When your tongue feels fuzzy. Where the edges of a dried animal pelt curl. Where wood has been burnt and so turned black. Wood splinters and flakes of paint and small thin sharp things underneath fingernails. Your lover’s smell, especially smelling something that’s just like it, but not them, years after you last smelled it on their body.

Performance documentation from PØST, Los Angeles, January 4, 2011. 

Johanna Hedva

Johanna Hedva (Yo-HA-nuh HEAD-vah) (formerly Kozma, formerly Reed) is a Los Angeles-based artist, writer, and director. Her work has been performed at the Hammer Museum, Southern Exposure, PERFORM! Now, Machine Project, PØST, New Wight Gallery, Anatomy Riot, PAM, High Desert Test Sites, and in The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time. She's the author of a novel, The Crow and The Queen, published in limited-edition handmade hardcovers in 2013; and Incunabula, a series of 103 fables, with each fable published in its own handwritten, hand-sewn book in 2012. Her writing has appeared in PANK, Circle, Baumtest Quarterly, InDigest Magazine, and in the WHL Studio Reader series, of which she is a co-founder. During the past three years, she has adapted and directed a cycle of Ancient Greek plays, rewriting them to respond to feminist and queer political discourse. johannahedva.comtwitter.com/bighedva