Saturday, September 15, 2012

Joseph Tidline Reviews Annie Sprinkle

So, I decided I'd write about the artist who most inspires my performance project that I've been working on. Annie M. Sprinkle is an American sex educator and former stripper, pornographic actress, cable television host, porn magazine editor, writer, and sex film producer. My hero.

Actually, Ms. Sprinkle earned her BFA in photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York in the mid-eighties as well as a degree in human sexuality at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco in 1992. 

One of her most famous performance pieces is her Public Cervix Announcement (shown in the photo above), in which she invites the audience to "celebrate the female body" by viewing her cervix with a speculum and flashlight. As her artist statement on her website proclaims, "You can never demystify a cervix. It’s a magnificent miracle — the doorway to life itself. One reason why I show my cervix is to assure the misinformed, who seem to be primarily of the male population, that neither the vagina nor the cervix contains any teeth. Maybe you’ll calm down and get a grip."

Sexuality is still a very murky subject in American culture, swept under a rug and spoken only with a whisper. This is especially true for female sexuality though a major irony remains: female sexuality is quite prevalent in our everyday economic processes. One can barter womanhood to sell clothes, booze, club cover fees, etc.; however, discussing the subject intellectually still remains taboo. Sprinkle acknowledges that to demystify sexual re-productivity is probably unfeasible, but what I like about the performance and image above is how it forces people into uncomfortable territory without losing any slapstick, which I think is required sometimes when relating serious issues to the public.

The next photo is a still from the performance, Dirty Sexecology. Dr Sprinkle and Elizabeth M. Stevens begin to explain the science of Sexecology, first by talking about it, then with a demonstration. It blends pornography references with kitsch mock science. It was lengthy performance piece lasting around 45 minutes. The duo and two other assistants in white coats, demonstrate love with a flower, play country music, perform a kind of nudist ballerina dance and make love with an earth mound. During these demonstrations, one of the assistants in a white coat recites names of mountains. This all relates to Sprinkle declaring herself ecosexual. She claims that the Earth should be cared for and respected  just like humans. Her methods in this performance piece may be a tad over the top for this particular topic but I think she mostly accomplished her in the piece.

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