The Power of Sex by Will Roger Peterson, Burning Man Co-founder

The annual juried exhibition 12 Inches of Sin has become a five-star smorgasbord of provocative art. Brought to us by Sin City Gallery, the much-anticipated show has emerged as an iconic must-see exhibit, complete with an accompanying annual and highly collectable art book. In this innovative setting, Dr. Henkel has taken on the challenge of raising questions about what is erotic and what qualifies as art, and the complex relationship and considerable gray area between the two genres.

I have had the great honor of serving four years as a juror for the 12 Inches of Sin competition and fine art exhibition. During my time, the submissions have grown not only in quantity but also in quality and diversity.

In my own life, and as a juror, I have observed that art has a highly personal character and contains its own enigma. Great art is not always that most esteemed in the art world, and in my opinion, it seems that some of the best and most inspiring art has come from the self-taught artists who has yet to be accepted by the art world. And yet, today, in its fifth year, the 12 Inches of Sin exhibition features work that is made by those who are formally trained in the fine arts, as well as those who are self-taught. This diversity is also seen in the references to sexual preferences whether straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, objectification, anamorphic, or just the feeling that it is sexual.

Erotica is a highly charged topic fueled by cultural opinions, based in the secrets of attraction, sexual constructs, religious dogma, social opinion, personal bias, and our own triggers for titillation. Our culture has a way of creating a sense of mystery around the erotic, and this in turn shapes our behavior. For proof of this phenomenon, we can just look to the sheer number of euphemisms we have for coitus. The power of sex and the allure of the erotic are co-opted by advertising while the political system uses ideas of sex to create fear.

Dr. Henkel’s exhibit showcases artistic interpretation of our erotic behavior. It is my opinion that this kind of work helps liberate the phobic veil that contemporary culture manufactures around our sexuality. Please enjoy the show and I hope it will provide each audience member a moment in time to question their opinions about both art and eroticism and all that lies in-between.

~ Will Roger Peterson, Cultural Founder, Burning Man


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