A set of images as a submission for Ello's Not for Print "Censorship" issue. @notforprint
Each of these is an overlay of two images.
The backgrounds are manipulated scans of copper printing plates I found discarded on the side of the road in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It's hard to know their exact age but the 1930s seems most likely. There's a priest, a Mother Superior, a flock of nuns, a doctor's office, and a class graduation picture which was probably from a nursing school run by the nuns (that's based on other images not shown here). These religious orders were notorious for their oppression of anything that challenged the orthodoxy, while at the same time everyone knew the priests were having a go at the altar boys and the nuns were terribly friendly with each other - and the priests - after lights-out. The 20s and 30s were a turning point when sexuality went from being a taboo subject framed in terms of sin and vice to being a taboo subject framed in terms of medical disorders, hindered and inhibited from open discussion by the stranglehold religion tried to keep on medical services. Some of the nuns in these pictures may very well have still been working in hospitals when I was born, and their attitudes certainly informed the culture I endured. But they're far enough away from us in 2016 that we can safely point and laugh at their "mediaeval" attitudes.
The overlay images are of Phil, who's a Canadian Gay Games athlete. To me Phil represents a generation who have largely rejected the stifling religious narratives about sexuality. But. These images of him are racy enough that they'd get me banned from Facebook, and certainly you'd want to avoid perusing them at a conservative workplace. Try asking someone to explain why that is; usually the answer evolves into some kind of discussion about the nature of porn. These images quickly get tagged as porn.
I've spent the last 15 years making art that is sometimes described as porn, and this is my current thesis: what's called porn is art about sex, and you can evaluate it as good or bad art using the same tools you use for any other kind of art. Almost any art about sex quickly gets tagged as porn, obscene, or NSFW.
So while we congratulate ourselves on having outgrown the ideas that hemmed in those nuns, in fact we're still very prudish when it comes to discussing sex. To the point where I'm either censored or must self-censor fairly stringently when it comes to what I make and where I post it. We're not quite the libertines we'd like to think we are.
Bill Pusztai / billpusztai.com