The definition of sex and sexuality has always been up for discussion. Gallery 1313 is currently presenting its annual installation of The Sex Show; a display of pieces exploring the theme of sex and sexuality, curated by Phil Anderson, the director of the gallery. Artworks are presented in various forms and mediums, including photography, collage, painting, textile and mixed media.
Installation view of The Sex Show at Gallery 1313, 2018. Photo: Nathan Flint
At the opening event, Andrea Werhun, the writer of Modern Whore, read from the book, along with the display of an original photographic print from its illustrations, titled The End. An audio installation of the reading is placed in the exhibition so visitors can listen to it later on, using headphones. Modern Whore is a memoir of the time Werhun spent as a sex worker in Toronto, containing 27 short stories about sexuality, empowerment, freedom and whoredom, accompanied by 60 portraits taken by filmmaker Nicole Bazuin.
Writer Andrea Werhun (right) and photographer Nicole Bazuin (left) in front of The End. Photo: Iris Wu
What defines as sexual and erotic? The art pieces of The Sex Show approach the topic of sex and sexuality in many ways. Luna and Passion are two acrylic paintings composed by Zabrina Szymanski portraying a female body in a poetic and anonymous way. Inspired by Pop Art and Street Art, this contemporary series capture the insights of sexuality through highly stylized female bodies. Szymanski intentionally depicted these figures with no faces, allowing the viewers to indulge in the beauty of bodies without feeling the guilt of a voyeur. Hooley McLaughlin also portrays a headless woman torso in the process of undressing, that makes it look even more erotic.
Zabrina Szymanski, Luna. Photo: Iris Wu
Painting by Hooley McLaughlin. Photo: Iris Wu
Many more works depict the beauty of the human body: male, female or both: Phillipa Hajdu, Nora House, Shelagh Howard, some by using a sense of humor like Norm Barney or a little surrealistic touch such as Mona Hedayati. Sara Arasteh’s work, Swallowing my Femininity is outstanding by its semi-abstract approach.
Works by Phillipa Hajdu. Photo: Iris Wu
Shelagh Howard with her paintings and Nora House in front of her work, Selfie. Photo: Phil Anderson
Norm Barney, Babes. Photo: Iris Wu
Mona Hedayati, Fellatio and Locked up. Photo: Iris Wu
Sara Arasteh, Swallowing my Femininity. Photo: Iris Wu
Emma Chadwick, who has been working on digital collage for 15 years, has her newly finished piece Love Letters to My Husband on display. Her work is a series of simple texted animation line drawings that she sent to her partner to convey messages without using photos or the usual love icons. As she says, “There was the challenge of the medium, because you can’t erase, so you have to get the image right at the first time.” It supposed to present the “erotic moment” in a long-term relationship and also comments on the distance that can happen – and how to close the gap by texting.
Emma Chadwick, Love Letters to My Husband. Photo: Iris Wu
Pauline Dalby with her work. Photo: Phil Anderson
This Sex Show in Gallery 1313’s Project Gallery is an “exciting” one, and as attendees said at the opening reception, stronger than the previous one, definitely worthy of a visit.
*Exhibition information: February 14 -25, 2018, Gallery 1313 Project Gallery, 1313 Queen Street West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sun 1 – 6 pm.