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One of the photographic works exhibited in the exhibition "Sex Symbol" in the Carpenter Studios gallery in Philadelphia. The work is by the artist Nancy Hellebrand, in collaboration with Shira Yudkoff. The artist lives and works in Philadelphia. Photo of Carpenter Studios.
One of the photographic works exhibited in the exhibition "Sex Symbol" in the Carpenter Studios gallery in Philadelphia. The work is by the artist Nancy Hellebrand, in collaboration with Shira Yudkoff. The artist lives and works in Philadelphia. Photo of…

Who doesn’t want to be a sex symbol?

An exhibition at the Artspace 1241 gallery in Philadelphia explores the symbolism of sex from the point of view of four local artists.

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If I were lucky enough to be in Philadelphia these days I would not hesitate to stop by ARTSPACE 1241 in Carpenter Street and take a look at the "Sex Symbol” exhibition where four local artists reflect on this famous and longed-for concept. Who has not dreamed of being a sex symbol?

In my case in particular, it has been an obsession since I became an “adult” (a miracle that is supposed to happen when I turned eighteen). It is quite probable that my eagerness to become a sexual myth has to do with having been a rather chubby and childish teenager. While I was still playing with my Barbie dolls, some of my friends wore low-cut bikinis and were having their first kiss with guys at beach parties.

At the University I changed the Barbies for the books, but my attempts to get the attention of men continued to be just as disastrous. Because of my sickly competitive mind, my strategies of flirting basically consisted of teasing or bothering them to humiliate them: - "I'm sure that I'll beat you up in ping pong", "I suppose you've read The Brothers Karamazov" or "Who gave you that T-shirt? Your grandfather?” - Which never led me to good port. How easy it would have been to wear a short skirt, paint my lips and listen to them docilely with a silly smile...

At the University I changed the Barbies for the books, but my attempts to get the attention of men continued to be just as disastrous.

What does it really mean to be a sex symbol? I ask this same question to Google and the search engine sends me to consult the web Wikihow, where I find summarized in nine steps the way to become a sexual bomb. After a series of tips on how to comb my hair and put on makeup, my attention is drawn to point 5: "Learn to know how to be with people. Be smart when talking, without being heavy, arrogant or know-it-all." Bingo. If I only knew…

My longing to become a sex symbol shot up six years ago, shortly after I broke up with a long relationship. A friend, seeing my desperate attempts to return to the world of flirting, gave me great advice: "The key to success is to be mysterious and sexy."

I listened to him. I began to go to parties dressed in black dresses, with lips painted in rouge fatal, trying to remain quiet and not compete with the men I liked. "Do not tell him you're going to beat him in tennis," my friends would tell me.

A friend, seeing my desperate attempts to return to the world of flirting, gave me great advice: "The key to success is to be mysterious and sexy."

The fact is that it was impossible because I would’ve stopped being me. Because when a man makes me nervous, I can’t help but saying nonsense without stopping and start closing my eyes, in a nervous tic I have inherited from my mother. Sometimes it's so exaggerated that it seems like I'm falling asleep. "It's sexy to see you talk with your eyes closed," they once told me. "It's very sensual," another one said. On my own, after all this time, I came to the conclusion that this was my strong point. The basis for becoming a good sex symbol - as a Matahari with an overdose of ego says - is knowing how to take advantage of your flaws. Self-confidence is attractive.

You will tell me what you think of the work that these four artists of Philadelphia - Nancy Hellebrand, Judy Gelles, Ekaterina Popova and Phillys Gorsen - expose in ARTSPACE in an attempt to reflect on the symbolism of sex from the feminine point of view.

"A look that involves exploring concepts such as femininity, sexuality, intimacy and physical relationships in itself," the booklet of the exhibition says.

The exhibition 'Sex Symbol’ will be open until the 30th of July.

From Wednesday to Friday, from 12pm to 5pm

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