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by Katie Peachesa April 11, 2020 2 min read

Four Performance Artists Who Have Shocked Audiences With Sexual Acts

By Ekaterina Mironova

One of the questions that has been asked most often in the art world is 'is it art?' For many, the idea of a man simulating oral sex or a woman exposing her vagina is not what the word 'art' necessarily brings to mind. Yet performance artists have been making sex and sexuality the centre of their performances for some time. Here are five of the most controversial performances of the last several decades:

Jonathan Meese

The contemporary German painter, sculptor and performance artist shocked audiences at the Nationaltheater Mannheim on June 26, 2013, when he performed oral sex on an ET doll which had a crude swastika painted on its chest. The show also shocked viewers as Meese performed frequent Nazi salutes, an act which is illegal in not only Germany but Austria and the Czech Republic too.

Cheng Li

Some might see Meese's recent display as graphic, but it has nothing on Chinese artist Cheng Li's performance piece Art Whore. In March 2011, the 51 year old and an unnamed female partner had sex inside (and on the roof of) an art gallery. The performer's explicit and very public statement on the 'commercialization of art' earned him a year's incarceration in a labour camp (NSFW).

Vito Acconci

One of the older generation of performance artists, Vito Acconci has had a career spanning landscape architecture and performance and installation art. Perhaps one of his most notorious pieces was his 1971 performance, Seedbed, at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York. In this piece, Acconci lay hidden underneath a ramp spanning the gallery, and masturbated while speaking sexual fantasies about the unseen gallery visitors above into a loudspeaker.

Valie Export

While this Austrian artist, who has worked in media ranging from photography and sculpture to computer animation and body performances, has not performed any real or simulated sex acts, her 1968 piece Aktionshose: Genitalpanik (Action Pants: Genital Panic) was fairly explicit. The artist entered an art cinema in Munich, clad in crotch less pants, and walked around the cinema with her exposed genitals at the viewer's face level. Many of her performance pieces from this time were about women's depiction in the cinema and female sexuality.

Katie Peachesa
Katie Peachesa

Katie Peachesa is a sex and lingerie blogger based out of the urban chic Wapping in the heart of East London, United Kingdom. In her spare time, Katie enjoys photography, yoga and fitness, a bit of boxing, traveling, keeping up with the latest fashion trends and mudlarking and exploring pastoral settings. You are likely to find Katie in an artisan cafe in Brick Lane on a Saturday afternoon furiously typing her next article on her laptop whilst she is sipping on her flat white and drawing inspiration from the hustle and bustle in the heart of creative London. Katie runs the "Fashion Life Mag" and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Allure, Grazia, Tatler, Evening Standard and other popular media outlets.


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