With conventional galleries generally too squeamish to present erotica, Jennifer Lee Barker says sex shows such as Sexapalooza offer important artistic showcases.
“There’s no gallery that wants to show erotic work,” she says. “We can’t put them in a restaurant; we barely put them in any bars. We can barely put them anywhere, and these people need to show their art.”
Barker is with the Quebec Artists Council, or Conseil des Artistes Québécois, which has a booth at this weekend’s consumer sex show in Ottawa, alongside vendors selling everything from dildos to Justin Bieber sex dolls.
Barker says QAC’s goal is to champion art deemed too controversial for an average gallery.
"There's no gallery that wants to show erotic work," Jennifer Lee Barker says.
QAC first staged its erotic exhibit in 2007, and Barker says the response from the exhibited artists was one of absolute gratitude, as they faced roadblocks when attempting to display their creations elsewhere.
QAC’s new exhibit includes pieces from Canada, the UK, the US and South America.
This year, QAC is exhibiting pieces by Yvon Goulet (featuring ejaculating penises and hairy, muscled men in jockstraps) and Paulo Finocchi’s photorealistic renditions of oversized erections and men with their hands thrust down their pants.
For her part, Camille Strand redefines preconceived notions of lesbians.
“She does lesbian art but not soft and cute stuff, because we are not all cute and sweet,” says Barker, who identifies as queer.
QAC strives to be open to all communities and frequently stages showings in Montreal’s gay village, Barker says.
“Sexapalooza is one of the most amazing places to show the art because it’s people that are not coming to see the art, but are interested in sexuality, sensuality and the openness of everyone’s minds.”
QAC’s erotic art exhibit will stop in Toronto March 1 to 3 and in Sherbrooke, Quebec, March 15 to 17.
Runs until Sun, Feb 24
Ottawa Convention Centre