Body politicx

Witte de With, Rotterdam

The idea, Body politics, held in Witte de With, a contemporary art-space located in the homonymous street in Rotterdam began to take form in 2005. As the curator of the exhibition was visiting Frankfurt, he noticed a four year old girl wearing a t-shirt with the text: “Fotze sagt man nicht” (“You mustn’t say cunt. ”).


Seven Figures (1984), Bruce Nauman - Mels

Questions accrued to him. He started thinking about our sexual orientated society. Has it always been this way? What gives you good glimps into the sexual moral of a certain time? Pornography sure does.
What makes a porno flick stimulating? Analogously would a film showing a bicycle theft stimulate the real thing? Is there a social motivation for depicting a fake bicycle theft in a movie? If so, is the pornographic film also a social lesson?
By inviting artists, some of which have always focused on sexuality and pornography, some only have done so incidentally, the curator tried to create answers to these questions for the public.

As I walked into the museum-like building I was stopped by a guard: “Entrance is 5 euros, that is if you are eighteen, which I don’t believe you are young man.” After paying the fee and mumbling that this was the first gallery where I was asked for my i.d., I went upstairs: Body politicx is held in the top two floors of Witte de With.
The first floor showed artwork based on sexual fantasy. Pop-art, installations and sculptures were used to express feelings of desire. The second floor kept series of, which some people would describe as more shocking works. Most art works were provided with a seat, which offered a place to observe the work. It showed how the works were best looked at. Of course in a more technical way, like from which angle the work should be seen, but also in a more social manner, pornography inspired artwork can not be appreciated in the same way as most other contemporary art can. It takes some time and adjustment to appreciate these works.

One of the works I found shocking but at the same time successful in reaching its goal was a wall, built out of TV’s. It was an impressive installation; it overwhelmed the viewer in every way. The TV’s showed scenes of porno flicks. Instead of the actual sound of the porno flicks the installation was accompanied by classical music, so overwhelmingly loud that it was hard to concentrate on what was actually happening on the independent screens.

What hit me was that the majority of the visitors was male. Every now and then there was a couple walking hand in hand. They seemed tense. Sometimes I found myself more amused with the way the visitors individually reacted to the artworks. As for the actual works of art: Maybe this is what the artists want us to see. Body politicx is not an exhibition about pornography, it is an exhibition about the interaction between sexuality and society.