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11. November 2016 – 27. February 2017

Opening: Krista Beinstein, November 10th at 7pm, Schwules Museum*


Krista Beinstein is the grande dame of pornographic performance, the enfant terrible of erotic photography, and a pioneer of sex-positive feminism. The Schwules Museum* is dedicating a show to Beinstein with an overview of more than 30-years of boundary crossing art, which is so casual – in the Viennese sense of being unabashed and seemingly effortless – that gender attributes and associations are brought to their limits and beyond. As one review stated: “She is an exceptional phenomenon and a radical one. For decades, she has been concerned with female sexuality beyond taboos.” (Magazin)

Krista Beinstein’s attitude and her drive to prescribe a visual investigation of the representation of lust is her way of blurring the boundaries of sexual and artistic engagement: “It is important to me that I am able to see my intoxication, my desire, and my lust, as well as that of the women.” (Symphony of Life)

Censorship and violence, especially against her photographic works, seem to follow Beinstein. Images of women wearing leather and strap-ons, which became representative of being “anti-man” in the beginning of the women’s movement, were later referred to as the murderous enjoyments of the historical Countess Elisabeth Barthory, who sacrificed the sadistic rites of innumerable girls.

The images of Krista Beinstein would be repeatedly attacked as carrying unwelcomed messages (perhaps about one’s own sexuality?), instead of as an opposition to the conventional normalization of the feminine self-image. She displays an ability to represent the scandalous in her performances, videos, and photographic works, which are frightening, painful, and refuse to fit neatly into a canon of art. Again and again, her work contains the monstrous, the outsider perspectives, the obscene undersides of common sexual fantasies, which are actually shocking seduction offers – years and decades before the pop culture vampire embodied the sexual par excellence and even longer before the latest colorful dildo models or art-fur-related handcuffs had become a bland and lesbian chic.

In addition to her artistic work, her role as a protagonist of the feminist Sex Wars is also contextualized in the exhibition. The Sex Wars were a major spark for the creation of new “queer” groups who gained more and more influence during the AIDS crisis. These groups are now shaping the gender-political activist scene: against anti-gay resentment within the feminist movement, against increasing societal homophobia, and against the assimilating tendencies in the gay-lesbian mainstream. Instead, these groups are now fighting for a sex positive culture and “care revolution”, which imagines the future of societal reproduction as entirely separate from the reemergence of heteronormative patterns of same-sex families. Krista Beinstein’s work describes these disruptions, controversies, and the development of feminist-lesbian discourses.

“Krista Beinstein: BIO PORNO PHOTO GRAPHIES” is an exhibition curated by Birgit Bosold and Claudia Reiche.