Sexuality in Art

an exploration of sexuality, feminism, LGBT issues, and other related topics in the contemporary art world.


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“I Make Art Not Porn”… But… You Do Make Porn.

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This is an interesting one.

I have been a fan of Thought Catalog for a long time, except lately their increasingly sexist / anti-feminist and plain idiotic posts have left me really turned off.

However, I recently found this article about an MFA student who is doing an “art project” by essentially making a porn site. I, much like her peers, professors, and audience, am skeptical.

She’s received a lot of criticism, which is understandable. She’s running a “photography” site which consists of photos of her, naked, which she makes money off of, and is doing it as a sort of performance / identity art piece.

She makes a few interesting points in the Thought Catalog piece she wrote, comparing herself to the Duke university porn star as well as speaking out about her opinions on how LGBTQ peers have been praised for work that she feels is similar to her own.

I will say this: I am intrigued by her work. I didn’t pay to view her full site, but I support the free expression of sexuality. And, as we all know, I support sexuality in art. It’s a shame that she gets such violent backlash, but I suppose, as unfortunate as this is to say, that that’s to be expected with a “project” of this nature. It’s an interesting take on “art”… she is asking for curation and critique, and takes artistic aspects like composition, etc. into mind… and as performance art, she is making a variety of statements about feminism, sexuality, and the fine line between art and porn.

That’s where the main problem arises for me. The title of her TG article is “I Make Art Not Porn.” Not true. She’s making porn… as an art form. She is making porn. I just want that to be clear… she’s making sexually explicit and blatantly pornographic (in my opinion) images that you have to pay for and have to be 18+ to view… that is porn. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not art. She is making art. She’s making an expression of identity, a documentation of a journey, a presentation of artistic work… but… once again… it very very much is porn.

Sharmistha Ray, Growing Up in an Islamic Culture as an Indian Lesbian Artist

Artist Sharmistha Ray has spent her life moving between India, the Middle East and the United States, discovering, layer by layer, her own sense of self, sexual identity and artistic vision in contrast or harmony with each new environment. Now, as her latest exhibition Reflections + Transformations is set to open at the Aicon Gallery in New York City on October 24, she tells the TED Blog about how her journey has unfolded so far, taking her from figurative art to abstraction and back to vibrant colors and lush, sensual textures that celebrate and reclaim the female body.

“Growing up gay in a traditional Indian family in an Islamic society in Kuwait also created its own displacement. I experienced oppression very early on within my family and society. My sexuality, which started to emerge in my early teens, was a terrifying realization for me. I lived in mortal fear of anyone knowing my dark secret. But ironically, the fear also bore my love for art. It was through art that I was finally able to find my own voice.”

I find that this speaks volumes and has relevance to many issues. Many artists express that their life struggles and internal battles fuel their art and that their most difficult times result in some of their best art. Sharmistha certainly has plenty of content to reflect upon. Religious issues and conflicts with feminism and sexuality as well as her own sexuality in the context of her Indian heritage, and then what all of that means for her as a contemporary artist. This results in not only an intriguing interview with ted.com, but can be viewed in her vivid and unique art itself.