The Art of NSFW? See Provocative Works of Feminist Erotica From the Museum of Sex

The exhibition explores ideas of gender, fantasy, and the female gaze.

Lissa Rivera, Nude With Lamp (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.
Lissa Rivera, Nude With Lamp (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

New York’s Museum of Sex is exploring art historical notions of the male gaze, with its upcoming exhibition “NSFW: Female Gaze.” Featuring work from over 25 emerging women artists, the show offers new perspectives on sexual desire, and moves beyond the traditional role of woman as muse and object.

“These artists are not only using the visual language of sexuality that we’re all used to seeing, but deconstructing and analyzing, or even blatantly reversing it,” said Lissa Rivera, the museum’s associate curator. “A lot of this work was made by women exploring their own personal fantasies.”

Co-curated by Rivera and Marina Garcia-Vasquez, editor-in-chief of VICE‘s Creators, which helped organize the exhibition, “NSFW” grew out of the realization that women are becoming more comfortable with expressing their own sexuality, and that the topic is a fruitful subject for women artists. (Garcia-Vasquez had also found that the site’s NSFW category was consistently a top traffic driver.)

 

Amanda Charchian, <em>Celine</em> (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Amanda Charchian, Celine (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

“The people who come to our museum are largely women in their 20s and 30s. There’s this huge movement of curiosity that women have about sexuality, where in the past it would have been a big decision to go to the Museum of Sex,” said Rivera, noting that there used to be a perception that showing an interest in sex was edgy, fringe behavior. “People coming to see this type of work feels like a huge shift in culture.”

The show engages with the concepts of femininity, gender identity, sexual psychology, and fantasies—even BDSM. If there’s one takeaway, it’s that all women relate to sex in their own way. “We’re looking at all different sexualities, no matter how challenging,” Rivera said.

The museum’s mission has always been “to empower our visitors and to normalize sexuality,” a concept that seems more important than ever in 2017, Rivera added. “There’s a lot of emphasis right now on the importance of women’s voices and women having control of their bodies and their sexuality, because that is being threatened politically. These stories and this work really needs to be honored, and really needs to be paid attention to.”

Below, see more images from the exhibition.

Taira Rice, <em>Perched</em> (2016). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Taira Rice, Perched (2016). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Joanne Leah, The Whole (2016). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Joanne Leah, The Whole (2016). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Koak, Seagulls (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Koak, Seagulls (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Pixy Liao, Start your day with a good breakfast together (2009). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Pixy Liao, Start your day with a good breakfast together (2009). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Kristen Liu Wong, Come Closer (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Kristen Liu Wong, Come Closer (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Marie Tomanova, By the Waterfalls (2016). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Marie Tomanova, By the Waterfalls (2016). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Polly Nor, It Never Happened (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Polly Nor, It Never Happened (2015). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Nona Faustine, She Gave All She Could And Still They Ask For More (2014). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Nona Faustine, She Gave All She Could And Still They Ask For More (2014). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Monica Kim Garza, La Luna (2017). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Monica Kim Garza, La Luna (2017). Courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

“NSFW: Female Gaze” is on view at the Museum of Sex, 233 Fifth Avenue, New York, June 21–September 24, 2017.


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