Why does art turn us on?
We’re being blunt here. We’ve said it all over this website: we are looking for art that Turns Us On. So why do we care about art turning us on? Why does it turn us on? Can it be more of a turn on than porn?
The question that we pose as our ongoing theme for FECK:ART is:
Can art succeed where porn fails – to actually turn us on?
Obviously, as makers of erotica, we at Feck have a particular interest in visuals and sounds that arouse our carnal interests. Yes, we like being turned on. We love to watch, listen to or gaze upon all things erotically inspired. Lucky for us then that sexual lust, desire and fantasy have a long tradition of being expressed through art.
FECK:ART is a response to the shortcomings of contemporary porn, but not because it’s immoral, exploitative, or unhealthy. We’ve written a little on why porn ‘fails’ (and if it even does) on the blog before. Porn lets us down in with its stereotypes and predictability, its vacant flesh thrusting and its lack of aesthetic values.
Art is .. well, art is darn sexy! Of course, there’s art’s power to engage both the intellect and the imagination. This is implicitly sexy whether the art is erotic or not – the brain being an important sex organ. Then there’s the way a work displayed in a gallery is given an elevated consideration, making for a completely different form of consumption than that of porn. This viewing situation has the potential to do incredibly sexy things with the attention it commands; to hit us hard in the mind with arousal, and trigger a brain-body response in a public space. But most of all, art has an unlimited scope for creative expression that needs not conform to the stereotypes that pornographers think sell. This lack of inhibition excites us.
Here are some comments from artists who exhibited in FECK:ART 2014:
It is all about imagination for me. Art can stimulate much more imagination, and lead you down a much deeper rabbit hole than the superficiality of most mainstream porn.
– Steve Murray, Photographer
Porn is porn, art is art. Porn fails because it has nothing below the surface. You are not left wondering about the moments, you are not left wanting to know more about the people involved or the situation because it is all there, all explained, all obvious.
– TBP, Photographer
Art can express all those intimate details that are so often left out of mainstream pornography. It is the details, the nitty gritty, the lust – these things up close and beautifully exposed – is what gets us there/off.
– Lennox Diamonds and Michele Vescio, Video Artist and Sound Artist Team
I don’t think that porn necessarily fails, but I enjoy the capacity for intellectual stimulation that is more frequently present in art than in porn. The idea of porn as something distinct from art is an opinion I’d like to challenge with my work across erotica and pornography.
– Viola V, Filmmaker
So we ask you to make art that turns us on. Think about an artwork that has made you pause with palpable desire, and then take it even further with your own. Can you take the elements of what turns you on, distill it and potently convey it in an artwork? What kind of artwork could have the power to inspire involuntary bodily reactions? If this requires you to make art that verges on pornographic, go ahead. We won’t be outraged. Where does art stop and pornography begin, anyway?
Artist Joan Semmel painted her Erotic 1971-1973 series (Indian Erotic pictured here) in saturated, unnatural colours in a deliberate move to position her work in the realm of art rather than pornography (Source: Hyperallergic). What will you as an artist bring to eroticism to place your own mark on it?
With FECK:ART 2015, we hope to explore whether art can make porn obsolete, or whether there need even be a distinction between the two. We look forward to the effect your artwork will have on us.
What do you think? We’d love you to share your thoughts on art as a turn on in the comments.