“We want to de-contextualize pornography in its usual sense and show that an explicit sexual content can be considered art” – Pornceptual
About 6 years ago, an online gallery introduced the world to a new concept – pornceptual. The initiative, based in Berlin, grew since, and on its way to mainstream it brought porn closer to art than it was ever before. Even though it’s just a brand’s name, it’s so spot on I strongly believe the term “pornceptual” or “porncept” should definitely be adopted as valid words.
The idea of sex as art (or expressing sexually in a creative way) is not original. I first encountered its features in Erica Lust’s erotic feminist cinema and by watching Vex Ashley’s A Four-Chambered Heart , a series of visually stunning films, in which she often stars herself.
This is how I learned, for instance, what words such as pansexual meant, or what is like to travel around the world and film yourself while fucking in every hotel you check in (as seen in Stoya & Kayden Kross’ TRENCHCOATx: Curated Smut).
This is how I re-confirmed to myself that masturbation is not only a sexual release, but a form of expression itself (I highly recommend Beautiful Agony on this one).
I once asked Kayden from TREDNCHCOATx what did art meant for her. She said: “[Art] is a systematic deletion of noise, so that what remains relentlessly amplifies a single tone”. That is not an answer for the sake of answering.
I’ve been looking for this kind of art expression in my country, in Romania. Out of curiosity, hopeful to confirm to myself that we, as nation, aren’t completely isolated, that maybe we are part of it, part of a larger movement. And partially we are.
Unfortunately, I soon came to the conclusion there’s no actual pornceptualism in Romania, even though there are traces of it. There’s shibari (and other Japan-imported BDSM sexual practices, but that’s obviously a whole other story) which is satisfying enough, if you think that we barely started to slowly accept nudity in art. A small step though, with a long way to go before us.
I recently spent few days gathering local nude photography sources for another personal project and the results were nearly encouraging. Ready for a piece of truism? In Romania we’ve always been one step behind the big wave.
By only opening the subject, you find yourself in at least one of these three positions: you get overwhelmed by the widely spread prude morality, you get your back against the wall for trying to be an Occident/USA copycat without solid background on the local art scene or you can’t identify the right people, since they stay off the grid for the both two previous reasons.
Romanian pornceptual artists don’t identify as part of it, because there isn’t a whole to be part of. They use tricks to express themselves, in a shy manner, tainted by the public opinion and subconsciously looking for validation, trying at the same time not to piss off the local art critics/curators (which would lead, among other things, to be banned by galleries, art platforms, fellow artists or what not) or by simply leaving the country to get their pound of flesh somewhere better. Let’s say, Germany.
An example is Cristiana Cott Negoescu. “Who is she?” I frequently find myself asking. Identifying herself as a “conceptographer”, she’s probably one of the few artists with enough balls-sack to… release herself, artistically speaking.
I’ve seen some of her works. I’ve watched her for the first time while performing Alternative Realities alongside Denisa Nita two years ago at VSLO. In an ocean of emerging artists-wannabes, I’m actually interested in her work, which makes her, by far, one of my favorites.
After studying in UK, instead of coming home to pursue her taboo-driven art manifestations, she moved to Düsseldorf, Germany, where she can actually do her thing. Her “flamboyant” bulk of works gathers poetry, photography, live performance or a mix of all of them, hence the conceptography term
Read: Cristiana Cott Negoescu, Bioluminescent Creature Thinking in Multiple Dimensions
Although her films don’t actually involve people fucking, I would say without second though she’s part of the local pornceptual movement. There’s female and male nudity, there’s meaning and, in a way, she revolutionizes the manner Romanians perceive art.
Paul Stefanescu aka Sinne Sinth is another intriguing character on the Romanian pornceptual scene. He’s a cult filmmaker, owner of Qualiafilm (a “post cinema” studio) with a portfolio of several movies involving unsimulated acts of sex between the performers (Sleep Awake, Beings) and with another in-progress projects, such as Apologia or Obscur.
His eagerness to bring the erotic cinema at the mainstream level is all he’s got. You can constantly find him in this never ending Don Quixote-ian journey, trying unsuccessfully to capture people’s interest, fighting to open their eyes to what’s behind this shitty curtain of social media, politics and artificiality.
Paul’s poetry talks about pansexuality and homosexuality, love, misunderstanding and raw instincts. All the time trying to reach out to people alike. Masturbating in front of camera for the greater truth.
Read: Paul Stefanescu – Help This Artist Finish His Porn Poetic Trilogy
His virtual presence is so complex and large, it’s almost impossible to track who he is and what he does. You can find him on Chaturbate, on Vimeo, Tumblr, on Facebook with different names and aliases. If you want to put Sinne Sinth in a box, you basically found the wrong person.
“I’m looking for a male/female performer. It involves nudity. It involves sexual acts”, you can often read his online shout-out’s. His kind of art would probably flourish in other countries. But not here, no!
Alina Noir is a Romanian photographer and author “living and working between Berlin and Lyon”) who depicts emotions and nudity in a more romantic way – involving groups of young people who find themselves attracted into this frenzy of closeness and safety.
Imagine her artworks as the opposite of Jan Saudek’s gruesome, yet beautiful photography. Alina is withdrawing her artistic beauty from her models’ youth – a group of theater actors and ballet performers she’s been working with – so, in a way, she’s a medieval witch.
In my opinion, she’s part of the Romanian pornceptual resistance stream. She promotes human interconnection without social or sexual-orientation barriers. Her writing comes together with her photography, completing each-other and helping the viewer/reader see the bigger picture.
Talking about witches, I also discovered Viviana Druga’s works. She’s one of those artists that really embraced their inner demons and let them out to dance freely. She’s a performer based in – you have one guess where! After a period of “social art” as she calls it, she rediscovered her deeper, darker side, as a near-death experience aftermath. A “rebirth” that drove her to hold performances all around the world, the most recent one in China.
Her nude magical performances use obscure installations and photography to enhance the surreal atmosphere, the dark arts and she’s highly appreciated abroad. The pearls on her crown are titled “Tarot de Berlin”, a reinterpretation of the Tarot cards and the latest “Urban Witches Calendar”. Feel free to check them out here.
Last, but not least, Oxana Lasco, aka Kohana Neptune, the “astral traveler” currently living in Greece. She’s a hedonist photographer whose nudity aims for a higher state of mind. In her opinion, it’s not about showing skin, fucking, or taking drugs, but, as cliché as this might sound, it’s about rediscovering your true self and getting away from civilisation. An anarchy through nudity!
Read: Oxana Lasco is The Crazy Rebel Against the System
Her Tumblr is rich in psychedelic self-nudes that either depict the female body in its untouched, unretouched, unshaved(?) beauty, or the constant pursuit of reaching the Mother Earth’s core, and being one with the nature.
Disclaimer: This list is purely orientative, aiming to connect some dots, to prove, somehow, the natural existence of the pornceptual art movement among Romanian artists. None of the artists above identify themselves as pornceptualists, and if they do, they never mentioned it.
Credits Main Photo: Viviana Druga