Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?

Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?

Office for Contemporary Art Norway

November 17, 2011
Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?

An anthology edited by Marta Kuzma and
Pablo Lafuente


The Office for Contemporary Art Norway announces the publication of the book Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?, with a launch at Artists Space, New York on 2 December at 7pm. Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia? is an anthology edited by Marta Kuzma and Pablo Lafuente that reflects upon the juncture of the political and the erotic in the 1960s and 70s, in special relation to the image of Scandinavia as a sexually and politically utopic territory during those decades. Through a close reading of the cultural and socio-political history of Scandinavia, through the writings of Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown, Daniel Guérin, Jacqueline Rose and others, and through an examination of the obscenity bonanza that emerged around Swedish film-maker Vilgot Sjöman‘s I Am Curious (Yellow), the publication offers a plethora of historical material and an investigation of the political motivations behind naming a cultural form obscene and pornographic. The publication also offers material that contributes to the understanding of how the underground and cultural activism of the 1960s contributed to development of a pornography industry both in the United States and in Scandinavia.


Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia? is introduced by a thesis essay by Marta Kuzma, and includes writings by Susan Sontag, Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich, Jacqueline Rose, Henry Miller, Elise Ottesen-Jensen and Otto Weininger among others; visual contributions by Stan Brakhage, Marie-Louise Ekman, Dan Graham, Lee Lozano, Claes Oldenburg, Jonas Mekas, Barbara Rubin, Barbara T. Smith, Paul Sharits and Carolee Schneemann among others; fragments from periodicals such as Evergreen Review, Screw or Suck and underground journals such as Puss, Hætsjj, Aamurusko and Gateavisa, many of which are reproduced for the first time in an English-language context.


The anthology is published by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway and Koenig Books, London, with generous support from Fritt Ord. It will be distributed in bookstores internationally.


About the launch at Artists Space


As the first book launch of the anthology, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, in collaboration with Artists Space, will screen Barbara Rubin’s double-projection film Christmas on Earth, from 1963. The film will be introduced by MM Serra, Executive Director of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative in New York, and screened from two overlapping projectors following the artist’s original instructions.


Christmas on Earth is the filmic record of an orgy that took place in a New York apartment in 1963. One of the first sexually explicit film works produced by the postwar avant-garde in the US, Christmas on Earth premiered at the Factory under the title Cocks and Cunts, accompanied by a live performance by the Velvet Underground. Rubin, 19 when she shot the film, was described by Andy Warhol as ‘one of the first people to get multimedia interest going around New York City’.


Artists Space
38 Greene St, 3rd Floor
NYC, NY 10013, USA


The presentation in New York has been generously supported by the Norwegian Consulate General in New York and Fritt Ord.



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Office for Contemporary Art Norway
November 17, 2011

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