Porn'Im'Age'Ry: Picturing Prostitutes
Region: North America
Subject: Explicit Sexuality,Nudity
Medium: Installation, Film Video, Painting, Photography
Artist: Carol Jacobsen and Veronica Vera
Confronting Bodies: University of Michigan and professor Catharine MacKinnon
Dates of Action: October 1992
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Description of Artwork: Porn'Im'Age'Ry: Picturing Prostitutes was an exhibition curated by Carol Jacobsen with documentary photography, video, and installation work by Jacobsen and six other artists. A video entitled Portrait of a Sexual Evolutionary contained sexually explicit material.
The Incident: The exhibit had been commissioned by the University of Michigan Law School students affiliated with the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. However, the students ordered the show dismantled after a guest speaker at the October 1992 conference (that the exhibit was to accompany) complained to Michigan Law professor Catharine MacKinnon that a videotape in the show, Portrait of a Sexual Evolutionary, contained "pornography." The shows student sponsors removed a composite videotape containing Vera's film and four others after MacKinnon conveyed the complaint; this prompted Jacobsen to protest that the students were censoring the exhibit. The students, after conferring again with MacKinnon, writer Andrea Dworkin, and other conference speakers, told Jacobsen to take down the entire show.
Results of Incident: After contacting the ACLU's Arts Censorship Project for legal aide, Jacobsen negotiated a settlement agreement. The show was re-installed a year later for two days on October 15 and 16, 1993 with a public forum on censorship, sexually explicit work, and feminism, as well as providing the artists with $3,000 in compensation.
Source: "ACLU Arts Censorship Project Newsletter", Winter 1994