SEX is the stimulating exhibition curated by Lerato Bereng is currently on display at the Stevenson gallery.
SEX is a sensational group exhibition curated by Lerato Bereng at the Stevenson gallery that vividly engages with the various sexual narratives of South Africa and other African countries.
Bereng conceptually had two elements that she intended on showcasing, “actual sex and pornography” and “the work about sex, the responses and the conversations about sex.” So among the art pieces, SEX exhibits a couple of pornographic films, including the first all-black South African film, Mapona Volume 1.
“I cannot curate a sex show without having sex on the show. For me, it was a vital part of the kind of great narrative,” said Bereng.
“People ask me if now putting a porn film in a gallery space makes it an artwork. That’s not the intention. I am very clear that…the pornography of the show is the pornography of the show and the art is the art,” said Bereng. However, in a performance piece by the artist duo, FAKA, the lines between art and pornography are blurred.
This performance piece features the duo sexually pleasing themselves with masturbation while viewing gay pornographic films. Bereng describes the collision of these two worlds as, a moment “where you’re watching a pornographic act but the artists are using a form of pornography to kind of speak about inhibitions and spaces where inhibitions do not exist.”
Bereng called FAKA’s performance as “one of the most ground-breaking performances to happen in South Africa in a long time.” She said the reception of this piece revealed to her “the kind of educational element of the show” and that “people are looking for the first time and actually seeing.”
“I don’t think [SEX] is conservative, it’s out there but I am very impressed by the open-mindedness of people, it was quite surprising to see, even though people were shocked, there were fewer people who were horrified,” said Bereng.
According to Bereng even though South Africa is a “seemingly conservative” nation, there is in fact, “a lot brewing under the surface” because for her sexual expression occurs on “one-on-one scales”. For Bereng SEX is a “necessary moment to have these conversations about sex and think about sex.”
Bereng explained how she believes that the sociopolitical context of Johannesburg and the past decade’s sexual history makes the Stevenson gallery’s Braamfontein space the most “pertinent” site for SEX. Bereng emphasised that, “there are so many spaces, there are so many things going on sexually in Jo’burg and once you start speaking to people, you find out about these but the information is not really out there.”
The stimulating exhibition will be on until June 3.
Wits Vuvuzela, Braam: A gallery of galleries, April, 2014.
Wits Vuvuzela, How sexting is creating a safe space for curious millennials, March, 2016.
The Steveson Gallery, SEX Current Exhibitions, April, 2016.