The erotic art show taking on Donald Trump

Opening just ahead of next week’s inauguration, ‘Hands Off My Cuntry’ is a playful and provocative celebration of female sexuality

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There’s been no shortage of US political art in recent months – which isn’t exactly surprising. In the words of creative mahatma Kanye West, “great art comes from pain.” What’s more painful than knowing there will be at least four more years of Trump’s presidential press conferences? How much worse can things get, now that an actual adult baby is in charge of the most powerful country in the world? 

“I felt an increasing need to do something drastic and to call even more attention to the madness of Trump's impending presidency and the relationship he has with women,” explains artist Savannah Spirit. Her new show, ‘Hands Off My Cuntry’is the latest exhibition to call out the president-elect, and will coincide with his upcoming inauguration on January 20. Unlike the other shows, though, this one is all about erotica. Using painted flaps, salacious collages and creamy, oozing liquids, the show is a poke at Trump’s conservative cabinet, and an effort to celebrate women’s sexuality. 

‘Hands Off My Cuntry’ is the third instalment of the HOTTER THAN JULY series, and features contributions from 12 different artists. Spirit, the curator, plans to give 20 per cent of profits from the show to Planned Parenthood – an institution which is under serious threat with a Trump presidency. “The last thing American women need is to go back in time to the back alley abortion and possibly die from not having proper care,” she says in the show’s mission statement. “The last thing we need is America to take a big step back. Going forward is the only way.” We caught with her to learn more.

In ‘Hands Off My Cuntry’, you’re taking on Trump. How is this theme different to the other shows in the HOTTER THAN JULY series?

Savannah Spirit: This theme is very different because there actually is a theme. The other two HOTTER THAN JULY's were really just talking to the audience about sex and pleasure. This is about sex and pleasure but also about the power women have in a sensual way and yet how women are also denigrated at the same time. Women are worshipped but also disrespected.

“I challenged myself to pick work that was hard for me to look at. If it challenged me I knew that I needed to put it in” – Savannah Spirit

How did you select the art for the show? What were you looking for in the work?

Savannah Spirit: I feel that because the mood is so dark right now I needed to reflect that. In turn, I challenged myself to pick work that was hard for me to look at. If it challenged me I knew that I needed to put it in. I also feel that the best way to deal with a crisis is humour. We live in a topsy-turvy world and I wanted the show to reflect the dichotomy.

Why do you think erotica is an effective weapon for taking on Trump? 

Savannah Spirit: Sex and erotica are the most effective ways to capture attention. We need to laugh at this absurdity especially Trump. He's essentially the villain in every movie and cartoon we've ever seen. He only cares how things affect him. I feel he's so misogynistic, he's a caricature, it's funny but it's not funny at all. So we are left with mocking him. There's a long history of politics and satire. I feel that this show adds sex to that medley.

What are your biggest concerns for the future?

Savannah Spirit: My biggest concern is that we go backwards with women's healthcare. We don't need to go back to back alley abortions. The new administration is expecting women to be barefoot and pregnant, but with no means to take care of these women. It's frustrating to see our rights being auctioned off. I wish these men would STOP trying to tell us what to do. We know exactly what to do. I guess these people have never heard of a woman's instinct. The last thing I want to add is that I think it's important for everyone to take it to the streets and fight every day. If they want us to go backwards they will have to fight us women tooth and nail.

HOTTER THAN JULY: Hands Off My Cuntry opens January 11 at Undercurrent Projects in New York. 

Mike Cockrill, Lapis Danado, Annique Delphine, Courtney Frances Fallon, Adam Handler, Morgan Jesse Lappin, Joanne Leah, Jones the Savage, Nikki Peck, John Phelan, Alexandra Rubinstein, Savannah Spirit all feature. 

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