Kira Zeldin has been pushing the boundaries between Porn & Art for a while now. With her most recent exhibition at Phoenix Gallery featuring her latest work, we thought we would delve into the world of Zeldin to find out a little bit more about Art, Porn and Feminism.
Hey Kira, congrats on the feature at Phoenix Gallery. Would love to know how you first began the creative process behind the exhibition?
Nudity within art inspired me to discuss many issues that link to nudity and sexuality within our current society. My brainstorm began with thinking about nudity as being a most natural human state and ended in being one of the most contentious subjects: porn and objectification of women. This led me to question how this transition developed.
In my research I discovered that pornography and the sexualisation of woman has been around since the Renaissance era where the artists used prostitutes as the models. On this note, through my piece I would like to tackle a recurring question in the art world: Is it porn or is it art? Further, are the two mutually exclusive? This piece is created with the intention to challenge the way contemporary society views sex, nudity, and sexuality both out of and within the art world, through a feminist lens. The work is an expression of nudity and sexuality in an abstracted manner. This will challenge the idea of appropriateness within different contexts. In contemporary society nudity is most accessible through porn and art. Here lies the link between my two themes.
And which other artists were your inspiration or inspired your artwork?
As a young female artist I’m influenced and inspired by other female artist that tackle similar issues. I have been largely influenced by feminist artist such as Jenny Saville, Barbara Kruger, Judy Chicago, The Guerrilla Girls, Maria Abromovic, and Betty Tompkins to name a few.
With the Blurred lines exhibition, how would you define the relationship between porn and art in your work?
One of the first question’s I had to ask myself in order to breakdown this project is “What’s the difference between pornography and naked art?”. Defining the term Porn is a good place to start. Porn is defined as “sexually explicit content intended to sexually arouse.” According to this definition it makes sense why the nudes depicted in the Sistine Chapel are not pornographic. They aren’t sexually explicit, as they were not intended to sexually arouse and do not have that effect. If art never had the intention to sexually arouse, is it possible to blur the lines between art and porn?
Through a feminist lens I try to literally and figuratively take on this challenge. By taking subjects from the media and the internet I want to tackle issues such as censorship and objectification. I use modern art and contemporary issues to create a linear progression. Influenced by old nude paintings I take digital pornographic images and appropriate them into an abstract painting that begs the question, is it porn or is it art?
And how do you wish each piece to be perceived by the broader audience of society?
What this artwork is trying to do is discuss thoughts and ideas on blurred lines between erotic art and porn within the contemporary art world. I intend for my art to encourage discussion around the lines and links that exist between art and porn, and about how context effects nudity and porn. It also aims to explore context and appropriateness.
The two main aim’s of this project is for the viewer to question the appropriateness, the perversion aspect, censorship and question if the piece is erotic. As well as this, I want viewers to discuss sexuality and not only it’s role in art but its role within society. How do we interact with these images once we know it is porn?
What has been the most surprising reaction you’ve ever gotten from your work?
I’ve only really received such lovely feedback regarding my work, the viewed response has exceeded all expectations. I did especially love this one reaction at the exhibition, a younger girl had brought her grandparents to the show and from close up my work looks like a pink colour grandaunt of many small pixelated squares it isn’t till you take a step back that the figurative image takes form. Sometimes it can take a few moments to click. I was able to observe the moment it clicked for this older couple, it was the perfect response expression I’d hoped for.
With Pornhub being the most trafficked site in the world, do you ever think art can be as popular or there is a way for that to evolve?
Pornhub may be the most trafficked site in the world currently, however Art has been around since the beginnings of time, Art was was the original “porn” before the internet. I suppose a major factor is intention. The intention of the pornographer and the artist, and the intention of the viewer. The intention of the pornographer and the intention of the artist are very different.
Within my artwork I deconstructed this factor as I take porn away from it’s original context where it’s intention is to make the viewer aroused and appropriate it into an art work that has the intention to make the viewer ask questions. I believe that is a difference between porn and art. Art makes you ask questions where porn doesn’t allow that.
From a feminist perspective I would also comment that I believe that porn which implicitly endorses exoticism, misogyny and sexual abuse/rape is created to maintain the status quo of the oppression of women. I think a lot of contemporary feminist art is trying to fight this.
It’s common to spot in your works, a prevalent palette of pink tones. Do you think this colour strengthens your voice as a female artist?
We naturally associate the colour pink with femininity. From birth we are told pink is for girls and blue is for boys. I find as a female artist painting in pink empowers me as it encourages curiosity and evokes a natural exploration of questioning of gender identity and stereotypes.
And lastly, what does the rest of 2016 hold for an artist like yourself?
I hope to continue to be inspired by the world around me, this is how I get the ideas for my art practice. I like to read and talk about as many contemporary issues as possible and then I respond to these issues through art as art is my creative outlet, art is my voice.
Thanks for the chat and can’t wait to see more of your artwork to come!