Installation view of the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up exhibition (all images courtesy of Open Society Foundations ; photo by Jonna Algarin Mojica)

Sex work is work. Say it, think about it, and most importantly remember it when you’re next confronted by legislation that suggests otherwise at the expense of the safety and dignity of individuals in this field. It feels fitting then that visitors to this week’s Sex Workers’ Pop-Up will be greeted by this phrase upon entering the exhibition, which features art and performances by an exciting group of international artists — including Molly Crabapple, Carlos Motta, Annie Sprinkle, Midori, and Red Canary Song — many of whom are or were sex workers themselves.

Installation detail from the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up exhibition

Exploring issues such as migration, police violence, and poverty, and sex workers’ autonomy (which is especially important, given long-standing efforts to decriminalize sex work in the US), the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up also features a robust slate of events that examine the experiences and challenges faced by those working in this field. (And yes, it is important to think about sex work as a field, since sex work encompasses diverse roles such as massage parlor work, porn, and stripping.) Events will include an evening of storytelling highlighting activists for trans rights and the need to end the criminalization of sex work (which disproportionately affects Black trans women) (Saturday, March 14), and a “Sex Workers’ Town Hall” with former Queens District Attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán (Sunday, March 15).

As sex worker Tamika Spellman points out to Vox, “We have a very robust porn industry but then we still have restrictions on selling sex. Is that not the same thing?” Are you someone who cares about labor but is unsure about the answer, or otherwise uncomfortable talking about all of this? All the more reason to go and check it out for yourself.

When: Through March 16
Where: 9 West 8th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

More info and resources on understanding sex work here and here.



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