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Sex, swinging and the need to secede
by Lilika Ruby
2010-09-16 07:54:04
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sex003_img01_400Earlier this year, Swiss artist Christoph Büchel installed a fully functional sex club at the Secession in Vienna. And how, one might ask, does an artist install a sex club? It seems Mr. Büchel invited the Viennese swinger’s club Element 6, who in turn said that its participation in the exhibition "aims to give as many people as possible the opportunity to overcome their inhibitions." Though only fully functional at night, the interior space of the sex club was available for viewing – and fantasizing – by all of the museum’s visitors during regular business hours.

As you might expect, the exhibit aroused some controversy, including a city councilor calling it “monstrous.” My very favorite quote, however, comes from FPO politician (the right wing party in Vienna), Gerald Ebinger:

“Gangbang parties and domina rooms have nothing to do with art and certainly nothing to do with culture,” he pronounced.

However, in the broader scheme of internet chatter, the exhibition – and the ensuing “controversy” –  was little more than a titillating blip. Far less scandalous than works by early Secessionist artists such as Gustav Klimt or Egon Schiele. Schiele was literally run out of town – not once, but twice – in a period of less than five years. His pornographic paintings got him arrested, put in jail, and were then reportedly burned by a revolted judge.

Can you imagine that happening today?

For it to happen, one must be persuaded that a person outside of the very small Art World  cares enough about contemporary art to actually say something besides,

"It's not my thing, but why not?" as did young mother Ute Wegscheider when interviewed on the street outside of Büchel’s exhibition.

And of this, sadly, I am not convinced. I don’t really care if what Büchel did is considered ART. Obviously some think it is, other’s think it’s not. This, to me, is a boring question. What I do care about is the fact that few (excluding the media hungry pols who see “offensive” art as a vehicle to get press) really seemed to care either way.

Contemporary art itself seems to be the boring question. Irrelevant, inaccessible, and impotent. Even when it’s all about getting it up.

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