Category Archives: Sexuality

lesbian erotic and pornographic art

Some research notes – short list of artists who have shaped this field.

New age UK feminist painter Monica Sjoo deals with birth, goddesses and the cosmic.

‘It is as if she is reintroducing us to our lost passions. Passions about the earth, about nature, about true worship, about our own strength and power in the face of the mystery that we, as humans and women, inhabit’ (Alice Walker 2003, Introduction to Online Exhibition: ‘Through Space and Time The Ancient Sisterhoods Spoke To Me’).

The first lesbian photographs to link lesbian to sexual liberation, by American Tee Corinne, (with cornerstone book ‘Yantras of Womanlove’, 1982, which uses negative printing and solarization) who was an activist, writer, educator and artist.  I find her life and work fascinating – she started in 1969, while a postgraduate and married to a man-

‘She experimented with sexual imagery in her own art, beginning with photographs of heterosexual couples kissing and moving on to drawings of her own genitals, a subject for which she could find no other models’. (Bibliographical note in Guide to the Tee A. Corinne Papers 1966-2003 at the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives)

She did art again after a pause of around 5 years and after coming out, using exclusively sexually explicit material. She is responsible for the ‘Cunt Coloring Book’ (1975), which is still published and was intended to be used as an educational aid for kids (renamed ‘Labiaflowers’ for a short while). International reach came with photographic work published in the lesbian journal Sinister Wisdom in 1977 and, as a writer, with erotic stories collection Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex, in 1987 and winning the Lambda Literary Award in 1990 as editor of the erotic anthology, Intricate Passions.

In 1998 ‘…the Traditional Values Coalition circulated a package of what they consider “pornography” to members of the U.S. Senate. They gathered the material, including The Cunt Coloring Book and the book Nothing But the Girl — which features Corinne’s photographs — from The Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library. It was a further effort to discredit the ambassadorial nomination of James Hormel, for whom the center is named’. (Queer arts 1998)

Sex-radical dykes and S/M – Quim & On Our Backs

Jill Posener’s Untitled (1988), Katie Niles’  Untitled (1978), Jacqui Duckworth, Laurence Jangy-Paget, and Mumtaz Karimjee.

‘Photographer Della Grace, for example, conscious of the exploitation of women in heterosexual pornography, has explored different ways of confronting this problem in her work. One exhibition of her staged sex photographs featured audio tapes of the models talking about their feelings during the shoot, and she went on to photograph herself in explicit sexual scenarios, shutter-release bulb visibly in shot’ (source glbtq.com).

Catherine Opie’s Being and Having (1991)-‘lesbians wearing false moustaches and beards, plays aggressively with stereotypes of masculinity and femininity as they relate to sexuality. Giard’s Particular Voices project, a compendium of portraits of writers, helped to commemorate 20th‐century gay and lesbian culture, an important concern considering the devastation caused by AIDS and the critical neglect of much gay and lesbian literary production’ (source: arts.jrank.org).

Morgan Gwenwald’s butch-femme photography (US).

Kiss & Tell Collective – Susan Stewart, Persimmon Blackbridge, and Lizard Jones – challenging censorship (Canada).

Some Biblio

Boffin, T., and Fraser, J., Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs (1991).
Bright, S., and Posener, J., Nothing But the Girl: The Blatant Lesbian Image (1996).

Corinne, Tee A. The Sex Lives of Daffodils: Growing Up as an Artist Who Also Writes. Wolf Creek, OR : Pearlchild, c1997

Ellenzweig, A., The Homoerotic Photograph (1992).
Hammond, H., Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History (2000).

gay and lesbian photography – On our Backs, Yantras of Womanlove, The Perfect Moment, Being and Having, Particular Voices (http://arts.jrank.org/pages/10608/gay-lesbian-photography.html#ixzz0cDBTjZV9 accessed 10 January)

glbtq – an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture,  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Lesbian, Tamsin Wilton (accessed 10 january 2010)

Queer arts.org. “Obscurely Famous,” an interview with Tee Corinne. September 1998 (Accessed 10 January 2010). Online at http://www.queer arts.org/archive/9809/corinne/corinne.html

Sherman, Phillip and Samuel Bernstein, eds. Uncommon Heroes. Fletcher Press, c1994
Waugh, T., Hard to Imagine (1996).


It is as if she is reintroducing us to our lost passions. Passions about the earth, about nature, about true worship, about our own strength and power in the face of the mystery that we, as humans and women, inhabit.

exploring #4 : tech/ porn

and another one from we-make-money-not-art.com– about Pornography and Technology as presented by Tina Loretz at the 23C3 Berlin conf. in 2007. The post gives some historical info of pornographic media but this is the part I found interesting:

‘Teledildonics and Interactive Porn’

Second Life: avatars programmed to have virtual sex. Sex in Second Life happens through a combination of poses, animations, scripts, and typing. The main ingredient is known as pose balls, objects with scripts in them that trigger a user’s avatar to play certain animations or poses. For sex, poseballs are placed close together, with titles above them that say the position the user will take… Wiibrator, a Python application that interfaces the Wii’s Wiimote and the PS2’s Trancevibrator. Lorenz concluded by saying that we’ll see more and more of these gadgets that mediate virtual and real life sexual activities.

In another post the virtual sex world Red Light Social Centre is presented. This is pretty similar to Second Life, but it is all about meeting people and watching porn. It would be interesting to see how queer, if at all, this world might be.

Meanwhile, I updated the entry on Kira O’Reilly, the body / bio artist, in the Artists page (I can’t see anything particularly feminist about Kira O’Reilly’s work, but it is certainly queer, as it is work about boundaries and the body, posthumanism and respresentations of intimacy, so it is relevant here).

I also made a new entry about Jenny Willet, a bioartist, which even though not working within a UK context, is working with Kira O’Reilly, Marije Janssen of C’Lick Me and Netporn art&politics, WARBEAR of Phag Off and others at the Vivo Arts School for Transgenic Aesthetics Ltd.

exploring#3 : the spanish

via wemakemoneynotart.com, the political porn photography ‘The Penetrated’ (Los Penetrados) of the controversial Santiago Sierra (he built a gas chamber in 2006 to protest about ‘banalisation of the Holocaust’). The Penetrated is a comment on immigration and racial issues.

“The traditional paranoia of white people towards black people or of Europeans towards Africans is linked to a strong phobia. We thinks that sooner or later we will have to pay for our past and present greedy misdeeds. But this white paranoia is also related to the size of the dick or to the fear of a sexuality that demeans us. Our female and males might fall in love with it and that frightens us more than the perspective to lose our jobs, only your boss can take work away from us. The political reflections and the actions that derive from them are more primitive than what is ordinarily thought. Behaviours of racial identity are very animal because we are animals.”  (Regine (Debatty), February 24, 2009)

Here ‘political pornography’ is built on a set of heteronormative and patriarchal assumptions about the centrality of the dick in sexuality and the act of penetration as the act of sex. Pornography here has this single meaning, and fucking is a devaluing act. The penetrated is objectified. I really find the fact of calling this work ‘political’ problematic. This work as a comment on immigration politics would need to consider other issues of inequality and stereotyping rather than reinforcing them.

Other interesting stuff about spanish includes ‘Corpus Deleicti: the Body of Crime and Desire’ is a transdisciplinary research and production platform formed in Barcelona in early 2004:

Corpus Deleicti’s first experiment was Genderlab_Protopoesía_01 (2004), which explored medical imagery and rhetoric and its relationship to pornography. The second, which is in development stage, is Support Local Porn, an analysis of the capitalist logic of sex tourism (through the fictitious low-cost agency “Porno Jet”) and the re-sexualisation of public space, which generates particular sexual practices in urban contexts. The group’s artificial life highlights include their participation in MIDDLESEX, Confrontaciones Sociales Feministas, Diásporas Queer y Narrativas del Género, in Zaragoza, a videoperformance at Fugas Subvsersivas, reflexiones híbridas sobre las identidades, an exhibition at the Universidad de Valencia, and a presentation and performance at the closing of the seminar Desacuerdos: sobre Arte, políticas y esfera pública en el Estado Español, organised by Arteleku. Publications: the catalogue of the exhibition Fugas Subversivas: reflexiones híbridas sobre las identidades, published by Universidad de Valencia (2005) with the text: Corpus Deleicti: GenderLab: protopoesía_01, pp. 176-183. (UNCONTROLLED SEXUALITIES AND UNPALATABLE PRACTICES: BIOPOLITICAL CONDENSERS, 2007)

Corpus Deleicti: the Body of Crime and Desire is a
transdisciplinary research and production platform
formed in Barcelona in early 2004. Corpus Deleicti’s
first experiment was Genderlab_Protopoesía_01 (2004),
which explored medical imagery and rhetoric and its
relationship to pornography. The second, which is in
development stage, is Support Local Porn, an analysis of
the capitalist logic of sex tourism (through the fictitious
low-cost agency “Porno Jet”) and the re-sexualisation
of public space, which generates particular sexual
practices in urban contexts. The group’s artificial life
highlights include their participation in MIDDLESEX,
Confrontaciones Sociales Feministas, Diásporas
Queer y Narrativas del Género, in Zaragoza, a videoperformance
at Fugas Subvsersivas, reflexiones híbridas
sobre las identidades, an exhibition at the Universidad
de Valencia, and a presentation and performance
at the closing of the seminar Desacuerdos: sobre
Arte, políticas y esfera pública en el Estado Español,
organised by Arteleku. Publications: the catalogue of
the exhibition Fugas Subversivas: reflexiones híbridas
sobre las identidades, published by Universidad de
Valencia (2005) with the text: Corpus Deleicti: Gender
Lab: protopoesía_01, pp. 176-183.Corpus Deleicti: the Body of Crime and Desire is a

transdisciplinary research and production platform

formed in Barcelona in early 2004. Corpus Deleicti’s

first experiment was Genderlab_Protopoesía_01 (2004),

which explored medical imagery and rhetoric and its

relationship to pornography. The second, which is in

development stage, is Support Local Porn, an analysis of

the capitalist logic of sex tourism (through the fictitious

low-cost agency “Porno Jet”) and the re-sexualisation

of public space, which generates particular sexual

practices in urban contexts. The group’s artificial life

highlights include their participation in MIDDLESEX,

Confrontaciones Sociales Feministas, Diásporas

Queer y Narrativas del Género, in Zaragoza, a videoperformance

at Fugas Subvsersivas, reflexiones híbridas

sobre las identidades, an exhibition at the Universidad

de Valencia, and a presentation and performance

at the closing of the seminar Desacuerdos: sobre

Arte, políticas y esfera pública en el Estado Español,

organised by Arteleku. Publications: the catalogue of

the exhibition Fugas Subversivas: reflexiones híbridas

sobre las identidades, published by Universidad de

Valencia (2005) with the text: Corpus Deleicti: Gender

Lab: protopoesía_01, pp. 176-183.

Exploring #2 : Saartje Baartman and Mara Verna’s Hottentot Venus project

Looking around for female porn movie directors with feminist or queer politics aspirations, I came across Venus Hottentot, the director named after Saartje Baartman, known as Hottentot Venus while she was exhibited around Europe, during and after her life. I remembered first reading about this African woman’s violated body in Anne Balsamo’s ‘Technologies of the Gendered Body’ in Lucia Sommer’s ‘In/ Visible Body: Notes on Biotechnologies’ Vision’ in SUBROSA’s Domain Errors (2002), where she talks about new visualisation technologies and the fragmentation of the female body [about the Visible Human (TM) in particular]. Mara Verna, a Canadian  performance artist, set up an web exhibition based on her research about Baartman’s body and her remains being exposed in museums – to be finally returned to her home land 200 years after Baartman’s birth.

‘On location in South Africa and France this past year, artist Mara Verna presents the culmination of her work surrounding this historical figure through the site http://www.hottentotvenus.com This work is in association with a travelling exhibition entitled, Rien n’a ete perdu, which opened in Paris in November 2002 (La Vtirine Gallery) and at La Centrale Gallery in Montreal, in February 2003’ (Festival de Cyberart: Circulation 01,2001-2).

What is here intersting to see is how a female porn director appropriates a name which carries such a tremendous amount of violence, not just at a symbolic level, but on a material level (this is the name of a slave exhibited for her labia and buttocks, and then the name of a someone whose dismembered labia, brain and skeleton were exhibited). Venus, I read, who is an art school graduate, directed Candida Royalle’s first ‘Femme Chocolat’ film, Afrodite Superstar, which I am most curious to see – is this an empowering film? is it perpetuating the objectification of Baartman’s, and black womens’, sexuality (sexuality as linked to corporeality ofcourse and not meaning the act of making sex but the whole lot of eroticism and desire). And how can we think of these different approaches to representing and claiming back?

The director herself says: My attempt is to reclaim her sexual voice, and the voice of all of us. Even though women of color are over-sexualized in our society, our own voice is absent’.

art school grad

netporn/postporn and queer/ feminist activism

I want to do some work around netporn/postporn and relations to queer/ feminist activism and visual art. Should you have any suggestions about UK performers/ visual artists or netporn producers who consider their work activist (feminist / queer), please contact me (af93[at]sussex).

At the moment I am looking at the work of Katrien Jacobs‘ blog and her book ‘Netporn: DIY Web Culture and Sexual Politics’ (2007).  In her book she argues that there is an extensive porn culture online which is based on amateur practices and p2p exchange which makes non-commercial sexual communication possible, despite the corporate branding of cybersex that is taking place or the moderation of web spaces. In particular, she uses the gift paradigm to argue that the porn exchange, just like the link exchange for bloggers, signifies the existence of an exchange culture (a gift economy) which potentially undermine ‘capitalist porn industries’. Sharing of porn is seen as a socil activity which, just like gift exchange, aims at social cohesion in practices of play which are different to the ‘discipline and punish’ of the nation-state. This applies to amateur porn, realcore and queer amateur porn.

There have been two netporn criticism conferences (2005 & 2007) in Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures, Katrien Jacobs and Matteo Pasquinelli. It was The Art and Politics of Netporn (2005) which aimed

‘to discuss the potential of art and critical research in times of heightened information surveillance, filtering and censorship. The research presentations, art projects and performances viewed netporn as a complex network, with impact and growth, like any industry or media operation. Conference presenters addressed the ‘schizo’ climate of hype and censorship, focusing on the ethics and aesthetics of digital media environments and activities such as blogging, webcamming, chatting, p2p porn, live journals, confession boards, mailing lists and zines’.

This also produced the ‘C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader’.

The second one was  C’Lick me (2007)-

‘We want to re-think the society of the netporn spectacle: the digital zeitgeist that has given us a hypersexual body. What to do with our bodies and digital machines? Pornography has found its way into every nook and cranny of the Internet, but how can we still be queer radicals or body artists, private hedonists or fervent bloggers in this climate? Do we still need to have a sanctified space like an underground or a dungeon, when we produce de-sire with our floating networked bodies? Porn went porn-chic years ago. Today net-porn goes into Myspace bedrooms and everyday “realcore”.

I want to do some work around netporn/postporn
and relations to feminist activism and visual art.

Would you have any suggestions about UK performers/ visual artists or
UK netporn as feminist activism?