Editorial: Porn

In 2008, police visited renowned Australian artist Bill Henson’s exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. One image—a sensuous chiaroscuro photograph of a teenage girl glistening with sweat—became the centre of the unfolding controversy. After being rated PG by the office of film and television classification, the image was returned to display. Legally the incident was a non-starter, but its political ramifications were more dramatic. It sparked public debate as well as a change to the obscenity laws, such that the clause protecting artists from obscenity charges was removed.

The same debate flared up two years later, when works by two queer artists—Paul Yore and Taizer Stewart—were removed from the inaugural Sydney Contemporary art fair. Yore’s and Stewart’s works were aesthetically very different from Henson’s. Yore’s baroque, kitschy installations combined photographs, sculpture and textiles, while Stewart’s paintings—which collaged the artist’s own face onto pornographic male bodies found online—were self-portraits by an artist in a state of gender more …

Inside Issue #29

The Porn Report

Carrie Miller Daniel Mudie Cunningham

In this frank and forthright discussion, artist and curator Daniel Mudie Cunningham and writer Carrie Miller discuss their personal histories with porn. The emotional honesty of their conversation is reassuring, foregrounding the complex relationships that we all have to sex and pornography, in one form or another. Their conversation touches on themes from anxiety to nostalgia, addiction, fantasy and Hugh Grant.

Gastroporn, or The Sexualised Eater

Megan Fizell

Gastroporn, or The Sexualised Eater looks at the work of three women artists— Kawita Vatanajyankur, Elizabeth Willing, and Jodie Whalen—who use eating and food in their performances. These artists riff on the sexualisation of food and eating, and at the same time examine the fraught relationships between women and food in our culture.

Red Centre

Samuel Hodge Sebastian Goldspink

Curator Sebastian Goldspink interviews artist Samuel Hodge about his first paid photography job— to take stills on a porn set for a film that would later be titled Red Centre. These photographs are vernacular and take on the aesthetic that accompanies much pornography, while also tinged with a strange melancholy.

Porno Parody: In search of Pat Larter

Sunday School

Writing duo Sunday School (Kelly Doley and Diana Smith) delve into the erotically charged archives of artist Pat Larter. Their responses, which take the form of letters written to the (now deceased) artist and to each other, try to understand why Pat Larter has been largely left out of art history.

ANOTHER (MOSSY) GARDEN: Toby Chapman in conversation with Ben Terakes

Ben Terakes Toby Chapman

This discussion between curator Toby Chapman and artist Ben Terakes explores the influence of pornography in Terakes’ work. Ranging from the domestic scale and ergonomic design of dildos to zoophilia and objects that resemble props from porn sets, Terakes’ work enmeshes porn with the everyday.

First Notes on Contemporary Independent Pornography and Possibility: Function, Form and Philosophy

Jack Sargeant

In this study of two feminist pornographic films—Amber (dir: Gala Vanting and Frank Ly, Sensate Films, 2012) and The One on the Bottom (dir: Zahra Stardust and Mister T, 2012)—theorist and writer Jack Sargent argues that erotica is no different from pornography, and that the latter category holds revolutionary potential.

Adrian Gebers on the work of Francesca Heinz

Adrian Gebers Francesca Heinz

Writer Adrian Gerbers situates Francesca Heinz’s recent photographs and performances in the context of contemporary online porn culture. While many of these works reference art historical paintings, they are also deeply influenced by the landscape of digital imagery that structures the way we view sexualised imagery. Here Picasso, Manet and Titian come into contact with sexting, twerking, and celebrity instagram feeds.

Patrick Staff: The Foundation, erotica and queer lineage

Tim Walsh

Curator Tim Walsh examines a work by artist Patrick Staff called The Foundation. Combining documentary and contemporary dance, Staff’s piece looks at intergenerational queer relationships through the prism of the Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) Foundation in Los Angeles, which maintains archives relating to the Finnish-born artist’s legacy.

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