Last week, my friends and I attended a party put on by Pornceptual at the Berlin club, About Blank. We expected a sex party, but soon realized it was much more. The formerly illegal, multi-room club in Friedrichshain transformed into the most fascinating erotic performance art party that I’ve ever attended.
Photo credit: Andrea Galad
Thump stated the vibe perfectly in a recent interview with the people behind the project/party series:
“The project has a socio-political mission that many parties of this sort lack: challenging the mainstream porn industry's misogyny, exploitive treatment of its workers, and fetishistic views on race and sexuality by creating an alternative model based on inclusivity and queerness.”
Founded in May 2012 by Brazil-born artist Chris Phillips, Pornceptual is an art project that aims to “de-contextualize pornography in its usual sense and show that an explicit sexual content can be considered art.” It began solely as an online gallery for erotic art, but has evolved into a platform for people to express sexually in a creative way. Pornceptual is proof that pornography can be respectful, intimate and artistic, while questioning usual pornographic labels.
“We believe that art (and sex) should be an open experience. This is also a way of creating new possibilities of representation of the human body. The usual body representations in commercial pornography or even in most works described as ‘erotic art’ are very limited. So here is an alternative for commercial porn, a product that is not only completely monotonous and predictable, but also sexist and plastic.”
The project still holds onto its artistically-driven conceptual framework. Phillips works with his team:
- Chris & Raquel: Partners & Organizers
- Kasper Burghout: Online Shop & Partnerships Coordinator
- Pierre Emo: Performance & Content Curator
- Justus Karl: Performance Curator
- Eric Phillips: Magazine & Content
- Diego Garcia aka Projekt Gestalten, Curses & Jamaica Suk: Resident DJs
Guests are often photographed and filmed at the party consensually, in sectioned-off, private spaces. These images are shared on Pornceptual's website or made into actual pornographic movies via partnerships with sites like kink.com.
Fedato told THUMP, “It's very important to say that it's not a usual sex party, because we are promoting a link between sex and the art world, and this is not normal in a sex party.”
Thursday’s event was described to be a part of a “a new series of events that merges performance art and queer pornography. In a night staged as an initiation rite, Pornceptual will exhibit a roundelay of performative erotic art, including the work of various Berlin-based artists and guests.”
We stayed late: dancing in the smaller enclosed area, watching erotic performers and keeping a prolonged gaze with other intrigued party attendees. The dress code was open and not very intimidating. I saw people in casual wear and others without anything at all. There was less emphasis on a theme for dress this time around. I opted for something new: nipple tassels. The air was full of acceptance, despite the lack of personal space that is sometimes required between strangers.
The garden of the club opened up much later into the night because of the stormy weather, which gave us a break into fresh air. We had nearly been suffocated by the amount of heat and sweat the club held. Finally, I watched a man bathe in milk as we made our exit. Upon leaving, all I could consider was how the next party would turn out. What made for a harmless and innocent introduction, sans casual sex and heavy petting, evolved into the possibility of a new introspective era. That’s more than I could ask for from any party.
More on Pornceptual:
Official Closing Party of Berlin Pride 2017
PORN by Pornceptual: 4th Year Anniversary | Berlin