Explicit art exhibit raises hackles in England

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 26 2002 1:00 AM ET

A video by artist Santiago Sierra in which 10 Cuban men perform a sex act is drawing criticism in Birmingham, England, according to BBC News. City councilor Deidre Alden is consulting local police to see if the art exhibit can be stopped: "It's certainly controversial, but I don't think that it makes it good art," she said. "If children are allowed in a cinema with adult supervision, as it says in the Ikon Gallery, it would be a PG, and I don't think that such a thing would be shown in a PG film."

Gallery director Jonathan Watkins says the work confronts difficult issues about the sex industry and that opponents are overreacting. "This will be nothing new to 12-, 13-, and 14-year-olds," said Watkins. "The idea that only adults should see this material is ludicrous. This work is not about exciting people; it is not in the least bit titillating; it's making a serious point about the exploitation of people in the sex industry in the Third World."

Artist Sierra paid a standard wage to groups of workers, including prostitutes, to perform "repetitive and intrusive" acts for the video. A spokesman for West Midlands Police said they would look into the matter if they receive a complaint.

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