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Gangbang Parties and Domina Rooms

Those of you who’ve been reading Art + Sex will recognize this truly lovely reference made in response to Christoph Büchel’s exhibition in the Secession earlier this year.

For those of you who haven’t been following along, Gerald Ebinger – Vienna’s “cultural spokesperson,” was quoted as saying, quite vitriolically, that,  “Gangbang parties and domina rooms have nothing to do with art and certainly nothing to do with culture.”

I didn’t comment further and a reader called me on it. Told me that he felt like my post was a cop-out and a tease.

You missed the whole point, he told me. That sentence is the crux of the whole thing – the meat, so to speak. I want you to tell me: Why are gangbang parties and dominatrix rooms art? Or culture? Or anything besides perverted sex acts performed by perverted perverts?

Gangbang Parties and Domina Rooms

Why indeed?

In a different article referencing the same exhibition – nothing brings out the Righteous Right like deviant sex – Ebinger was also quoted as saying that Büchel’s exhibition (Element6, really – I mean let’s give credit where credit’s due) was “abusing artistic freedom.”

In the context of Ebinger’s other comments, the first thing that strikes me is that these people are the same everywhere. Don’t understand what freedom is, but are damn sure about what it isn’t. It certainly isn’t tying someone up and suspending her from the ceiling of the Secession. Especially when she “appears not to be enjoying it,” as some vanilla-but-think-I’m-not blogger imbecilicly observed. And therein, as Hamlet says, lies the rub. Sexuality = sin, deceitfulness, duplicity = BAD.

We’re not only talking about artistic freedom – we’re talking about sexual freedom.

Sexual content is – and has been throughout Western (read: Christian) art history – the easiest target for the moral high rollers. Consider the 1998 Supreme Court decision that irrevocably (and to the detriment of all artists in this country) endowed those controlling art’s purse strings (read: NEA) with the right to “take into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.”

Okay – sorry – but What the fuck does that mean?

Try this: Connect the word decency to its enemy obscenity and you can get an idea of its implicit American essence. In 1964, and in truly historic fashion, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (in)famously declared that while he couldn’t exactly put his finger on it, well, “I know it when I see it.”

Okay – not sure that helped.

Fast forward ten years to 1973. The rules have been clarified somewhat (there are now three clearly delineated criteria that remain unchanged today), and yet there is still virulent disagreement about what is obscene and what is decent. About what is culture and what is simply crass.

I mean, there’s Piss Christ and Poop Mary and Bobby Bullwhip (to name a VERY few) – and that’s just up into the nineties.

…Shit. Tangential? Don’t think I answered my reader’s question…I guess I’m going to have to keep looking…

Photo courtesy of Memento24 & Element6.

Lilika Ruby earned her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where she was awarded a full scholarship to the Performance Art Department. Before attending SAIC, she graduated summa cu …read more

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