Selling Sex

The ladies and gentlemen at SHOWstudio can always be relied on to do something great. Their current exhibition, Selling Sex, which is a collection of photographs, paintings, videos and plastics made by female artists only, is no exception.

After running their programme ‘Object Fetish’, the team around shop director Carrie Scott and assistant director Niamh White realised that it’s almost exclusively men producing imagery related to the subject, showing predominantly women as the ‘looked at’ motive. This and the fact that women are shockingly underrepresented in contemporary art museums, TV and other media motivated them to put together Selling Sex. A carefully selected group of artists was asked to contribute their pieces of work portraying the female gaze on the female body, to answer the question how different from men women are when observing their own sex.

SHOWstudio Gallery in Mayfair

As is usually the case with art exhibitions, there was no simple answer to the question.  SHOWstudio’s gallery in Mayfair is filled with and array of diverse artwork, ranging from Una Burke’s armour-like sculpture to astonishing paintings and photography. The messages these pieces carry are as diverse as their appearance. While some exhibits depict female vulnerability and invite us to break into an intimacy that was forced upon the pictured motives in the first place, others, like Liz Cohen’s series of photographs, are a portrait of feminine diversity and the ability to transform. The intricately decorated hemline of Atsuko Kudo’s latex dress, outlandish, but beautifully crafted pieces of furniture by Charlotte Kingsnorth and the fact that Liz Cohen got plastic surgery just to model for her own photographs are proof of devotion, attention to detail and sheer talent.

Selling Sex portraits the diverse perceptions female artists have of their own gender, which differ a lot from what we see in imagery and sculptures produced by men. To what extend this exclusive selection represents the whole range of opinions out there in the world of female artists is another question, though.

Without a doubt, Selling Sex is a pool of young, as well as experienced talent and is sure to make one think about the perception of gender identities, the role of women in our visual culture and ultimately the world we live in as a whole. The exhibition can be a challenge, so it is definitely worth a visit.


Selling Sex will be on display in SHOWstudio’s shop in Mayfair, London, until 1st June 2012. Visit for more information.