2 hours in length. This is event is an opportunity to hear a detailed explanation of my practice-based research, ask questions, inspire discussions and get involved with this academic research.
35 Marylebone Road
Visual representations of sex workers that appear throughout art history are well documented in the academic literature. Debated, and censored sex workers depicted in art have been done so for a variety of reasons, with changing cultural attitudes towards sex work, styles and artistic mediums, visual depictions of sex workers in art have changed over time. With the advent of digital photography and the internet, photographs of sex workers have left the art world and are now accessible in people’s homes. The figure of the female sex worker features heavily in cinema and media.Representations of sex workers who lapses into narratives of pity are heavily portrayed by contemporary images of sex workers. These visual portrayals have typically been created by non sex working individuals and this situation has created a voyeuristic gaze that depicted sex workers either as hapless victims or as complicit harlots upholding the social structures that underpin patriarchy. This narrow visual portrayal of male oppression reproduced a politics of pity and has resulted in a hegemonic visual representation that encourages the sense that the only way of interpreting the lives of sex workers is to see them as ripe for ‘rescue’.
The rise of the internet in the mid-1990s allowed online sex work to flourish, sex workers themselves began to create their own photographic self-representations to sell sex and since then photography has played a vital role in the sale of sex on social media platforms. The internet has allowed female sellers of sex to control, produce and manage the visual façade of sex work, not just feature in them. Sex workers are now visual content–makers a role facilitated by the massive changes the Internet has brought to the sex industry, embodying a technology-led disruption that has changed the fundamental economics of sex work. The widespread availability of information on the Internet has revolutionised sex workers’ marketing techniques and the verbal and visual vocabulary of sex work. Words still matter and have their allure, but digital photographs are now fundamental to the transaction of sex.
The censorship of online sex culture and the eviction of sex workers from the open internet necessitate academic research into user-generated visual data created by sex workers. The discussion of sex workers as image-makers now warrants serious academic attention, and, until my PhD is notably absent from the discussions of online sex work.