To Gaze at a Postcard: Alex Brew Puts Sex on Trial

By Alex Montague

Exhibiting artist Alex Brew has published a series of tongue-in-cheek postcards subverting the traditional British obsession with sex to add a LGBT twist. The postcards have been supported by Mutiny and will be given free inside the now famous goody bags at Sex on Trial.

Brew will also be presenting a talk on the Michel Foucault based theory of the gaze – the assertion of power through glaring or ‘ogling’. Mutiny’s Sex on Trial will be held at the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal Green on December 8 2011, as a collaboration between Mutiny and the London based seminar series Critical Sexology.

Brew has done a lot of work incorporating the subject of sex into the world of art. Her photography has been displayed at universities, galleries and squats across the UK. Her creativity has delved into areas often uncomfortably for many female, or even male, visual artists, and her project Asking For It, which was held at the 2008 Ladyfest London, experimented with making male strangers the subject of human-form based photography.

Her 2010 exhibition Me Maskuline focused on a variety of artists spanning three decades who all focused on their own relationships to masculinity. Brew has spoken on the subject of sex before, including the 2010-2011 seminar series ‘Pornified: the sexualisation of culture?’ The British Library and the Women’s Library have both catalogued her work.

For her Sex on Trial postcards, however, Brew has taken to using old images and editing the dialogue to entirely change the meaning and the socio-political and cultural connotations. The culture and powers roles are reversed.

The postcards in question are all of the typical British seaside ‘blue’ humour; documentations of the ‘How’s Yer Father’/Carry On side to the national character. Yet the speech bubbles Brew has superimposed entirely revolutionise the images’ meanings. This beautifully emphasises the impact of the new attitudes- which Sex on Trial will in itself demonstrates- upon how one’s evaluation of sex.

Sex on Trial will be a carnivalesque mix of ‘speed debating’, video interviews, and alternative egalitarian discussion, along with music, poetry and theatre performances. The evening will see lively and informative discussions asking: What is ‘healthy’ or ‘normal’ sex is? Who decides this? Matters such as sex education, consent, sexual revolution, and activism through appreciation of each other’s sexual and relationship differences.

For those attending Sex on Trial, Alex Brew’s Postcards will be available for all in the goody bags that previous Mutiny Trials have also involved. For those that have not yet purchased tickets, please do so here. Sex on Trial will also provide free food for attendees, alongside the food-for-thought feast that shall dominate the evening.

Entry to the afternoon seminar is free. Tickets for the evening event are £5 buy-one-get-one-free in advance online or £5/3 on the door. If you attend the afternoon seminar event you will be entitled to concession price entry to the evening event (£3).


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