"Art is the sex of the imagination."
- George Jean Nathan
Whether the stroke of a brush, the crash of a chisel or a capture on celluloid, the connection of art and sex is undeniable. This week's Sex Stories We Love looks at the intersections and interdependencies of these two integral parts of our lives.
Art as Revolution
Many countries and jurisdictions around the world are currently experiencing a way of conservatism that will inevitably affect many different types of rights and liberties. In many instances, folks who find themselves to be part of a "minority" population will feel these laws and societal changes first. Sex and sexuality are frequently a prime target. In these situations, the arts can be a critical form of resistance in the fight against oppression and censorship. The LGBTQ+ community of Singapore continues to push against a conservative culture with festivals and events that shine a light on rights even though doing so could result in arrest and jail time. These are the heroes who change our world.
Porn as Film as Porn?
Sex on film has long been controversial. The mainstream world just doesn't know what to make of performers having sex on screen Whether full-on porn or simulated erotic situations, sex scenes often garner a lot of attention/ Frequently, that attention is negative. That said, porn receives the brunt of the backlash, but what might happen if the hard line between hardcore and softcore becomes blurred? Can there be art in there? Will people accept serious films that incorporate actual sex between performers? While there have been past examples of sex being mainstream directors in film, attempts at being film artistry into porn have been less noticed. Has Bella Thorne crossed the porn / art divide with her directorial debut Her & Him?
Sexy Art Through the Ages
Is it any surprise that sex has been a frequent theme in art throughout the ages? Around the world, in surely every culture, themes relating to sex have been drawn, sculpted, painted, carved, and generally depicted in every artistic way possible. From large frescos and murals to tiny carvings, the many examples of sex in art proves that sex is an integral part of our societies. Whether in protest or adoration, lust or fear, sex will always be key to our collective artistic output...and appreciation.
Celebrating Queer Sex Worker Art
Sex workers are another group of folks for whom art has been crucially important and needs to be recognized. As people who are all-too-frequently victims and witnesses to violence and criminalization, particularly queer sex workers, art can be a form of self-expression as well as a way to communicate challenges, feelings, and desires. At the same time, sex work is, for some artists, a means to earn a living while also tending to their artistic pursuits. Much like what is happening in Singapore, LGBTQ+ rights in other countries have moved forward because of powerful works of art and those who support galleries and media that promote these pieces. Just another reason to thank sex workers for the sexual world we enjoy today.
Subverting Subversive Art
There are those who think art should never be easy to digest and without controversy. Should art always push boundaries? Should art always challenge "conventional" thought even if might be seen as endangering or inflammatory? Sex workers in Amsterdam recently protested the inclusion of a version on one of their own famous statues. Famously erected in the Red Light District, the statue Belle honours sex workers around the world. Recently, artist-activist Jimini Hignett hoped to feature a wooded version of Belle, in which visitors could literally carve their names. This was Hignett's way of protesting human trafficking into sex work. Sex workers protested and this part of Hignett's exhibition will not be included. What do you think? Was this a valid artistic statement or could it have contributed to more violence against sex workers?
Righting a Wrong
Finally, after a significant outcry, Delta Airlines walked back their decision to cut same-sex sex scenes from in-flight movies. While it is good they've changed their minds, this does show that having sex in art is a fundamental building block to all of us and helps us move forward.
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