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Kama Sex and Design

Phallic marble chairs, a Great Wall of Vagina and other oddities on display at Italy's Triennale Museum

by Paolo Ferrarini in Culture on 12 December 2012

Kama_PenisVase.jpg

The products of design are often objects of desire, but to what extent can this drive be pushed? The exhibition "Kama Sex and Design" ventures an answer to that weighty question with an analysis of the visual representation of sexual motifs. The starting point is Kama, the Indian god of sexual pleasure, who welcomes visitors into the exhibition space at the Triennale in Milan. The route runs between contemporary objects, classic design, site-specific installations and photographs.

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Curator Silvana Annicchiarico tells us that the show "aims to be an exhibition on objects which have the genitals and sexual organs as morphological matrix, but also on the body that maintains sexual relations with other bodies. It is an exhibition that investigates how sex is present in everyday objects." To achieve this goal, the exhibition is divided into eight sections: Archetypes, Priapus, Origin du Monde, Breasts, Buttocks, Orifices, Couplings and Erotic Food Design, and is accompanied by an ambitious central installation entitled "Anatomical Atlas of the Erotic Refined Body." Among Etruscan sculptures, Greek vases and Roman artifacts we find very well known works like the Mae West sofa by Salvador Dalí, as well as provocative pieces such as "The Great Wall of Vagina" by Jamie McCartney, a relief of 400 plaster casts of female genitalia.

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The exploration begins with a room by Andrea Branzi, in which the relationships between classical and modern, and sex and death, are made explicit through skulls and reproductions of classical female nudes. It continues with a black monolith by Lapo Lani, located in a dark space covered with obscene writing viewed by flashlights.

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In another room Nendo's "Shivering Bowls" resembling female breasts move as their name suggests, moving in an unexpectedly poetic manner with a constant flow of air. The softness of Nendo's work contrasts with the hard marble and metals in Betony Vernon's installation where mysterious objects of the body (and a provocatively phallic marble chair) are presented in a red space reminiscent of an elegant brothel.

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Other designers and artists whose work is on display include Nacho Carbonell, Nigel Coates, Matali Crasset, Italo Rota, Piero Fornasetti, Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce. "Kama Sex and Design" runs through 10 March 2013 and is prohibited for persons under 18 years.

For more images please see the slideshow below.

Images courtesy of Kama Sex and Design and Paolo Ferrarini

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