uncensored images illustrate the complexity of the female desire

In the groundbreaking group show 'NSFW: Female Gaze,' 25 emerging artists bring uncensored views on female desire to the Museum of Sex.

by Hannah Ongley
Jun 21 2017, 10:30pm

There are a lot of sexual images of women in museums and galleries. But not many of them are created by women. And even when they are, viewing circumstances are often prescribed in patriarchal terms. Just have a scroll through Instagram — while more and more game-changing female photographers are turning their lenses on femininity and sexuality, outdated social expectations mean perspectives are still being censored. Ironically, when Harley Weir posted the photos she shot for i-D's Female Gaze issue last summer, they were almost immediately deleted by Instagram. A woman can be a muse, or she can be an object, but rarely can she reflect upon sexual desire the way men have done for centuries.

Lissa Rivera

A new exhibition at New York's Museum of Sex shatters this myth of female sexuality with radical diversity. NSFW: Female Gaze won't give audiences an easily digestible definition of what exactly is meant by "female gaze." That's precisely the point — the 25 female artists in the show aren't defying social norms in just one type of way. Utilizing mediums from photography and painting to GIFs and social media, they're celebrating the brilliant complexity of female desire. NSFW: Female Gaze is curated by photographer Lissa Rivera and VICE Creators's Marina Garcia-Vasquez. Other exciting artists in the show include Anna Biller, Marie Tomanova, Nona Faustine, and sex-positive collage genius Scientwehst.

Marie Tomanova

Rivera is exhibiting the radical photos of her gender-fluid boyfriend that she shared with i-D earlier this month. The series explores different feminine fantasies to celebrate the traditional muse figure while stretching its limits. "We are immune to images of beautiful women and have been taught that the vanity of wanting to be recorded in art is somewhat of a lesser pursuit," Lissa explained. "I hope to illuminate the muses of the past that make the art that we worship so poignant with their vulnerability and creative presence." Faustine and Tomanova are just stoked to show their subversive, feminist photography without covering it in dumb emojis. 

Monica Kim Garza

Amanda Charchian

Kristen Liu Wong

Joanne Leah

Taira Rice

Polly Nor


Text Hannah Ongley
Images courtesy of Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex
Female Gaze