We’re Still Working: The Art of Sex Work is a multidisciplinary group exhibition created by, and in celebration of, sex workers. Curated by Maxine Holloway and Javier Luis Hurtado, We’re Still Working is the second exhibition in the 2016–2017 season of the SOMArts Curatorial Residency. The exhibition will encourage viewers to challenge dominant narratives about sex workers.
Opening with a free public reception on Thursday, January 26, 6–9 pm, We’re Still Working addresses the complexity of sex work through multiplicitous and diverse sex worker perspectives, creating a space for sex workers to creatively tell their own stories and insisting that sex worker contributions to the history, art and culture of the Bay Area are seen and valued.
“We are not outsiders examining the sex worker community, but insiders with art to share. We strongly believe that placing sex workers at the center of our own narrative is one of the best ways to fight for sex worker justice. Art is a form of activism, and we are committed to creating opportunities for sex workers to share our stories through artistic outlets,” Holloway and Hurtado observe of their curatorial debut for We’re Still Working.
The opening reception on January 26 will feature performance activation of artworks by Arabelle Raphael, Joseph Liatela, and LYRIC LGBTQ Youth Center, as well as an opportunity to share your thoughts on the exhibition in a community audio booth.
Filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist Logout’s film LUCID NOON SUNSET BLUSH presents an unapologetic portrait of queer, black femme friendship, solidarity and resistance to racist and patriarchal violence.
Jacq the Stripper’s comic illustrations provide irreverent and honest insight into her work as a feminist stripper. Presented together in the gallery, the illustrations illuminate the range of her experiences — from the sublime empowerment of dancing to the awkward and unwanted advances of male patrons.
Joseph Liatela’s series of monotype prints PROXIMITY investigates transformation by documenting and destroying the garments worn by the artist before leaving sex work in order to medically transition. Exploring the intimacy and affective attachment to the garments, Liatela challenges viewers to consider the consequences of fantasies projected on other’s bodies.
Internationally renowned photographer Rae Threat’s series The Industry features portraits of sex workers as they choose to be seen. Often placing subjects in fetishwear in quotidian settings, Threat’s portraits explore the multifaceted experiences and identities of sex workers.
Multidisciplinary artist Laurenn McCubbin’s installation A Monument to the Risen is based on a series of interviews exploring how sex workers perform emotionality and construct their own identities inside and out of sex work. The immersive installation will invite viewers “behind the curtain” of San Francisco’s gone but not forgotten sex worker-owned peep show The Lusty Lady.
Public programs in conjunction with the exhibition include a Sex Worker Health Panel in collaboration with LYRIC Youth Center on Saturday, February 4, 1–4 pm and a Failed Films evening of films by and for sex workers on Friday, February 17, 6–9 pm.
WE’RE STILL WORKING
Aida Lizalde in collaboration with Julius Caesar
Ana Quintanilla in collaboration with Sthefany Galante Bautista & Lluvia Chávez
Chucha Marquez & Gina de Vries in collaboration with youth from LYRIC LGBTQ Center
Emmet Logan in collaboration with Kalash Ka
Grace Mendenhall in collaboration with Juliette Stray
Jacq the Stripper
Lyric Seal aka Neve Be
Shae Rayder Walsh
We’re Still Working Community Partners
St. James Infirmary
El/La Trans Latinas
LYRIC Youth Center
Thursday, January 26, 6–9pm
The opening night celebration features performance activations of artworks by Arabelle Raphael, Joseph Liatela, and LYRIC LGBTQ Youth Center.
Sex Worker Health Panel: An LGBTQ Youth Perspective
Saturday, February 4, 1–4pm
Presented in collaboration with LYRIC Youth Center’s SWAG, the panel features Alix Lutnick and young people who have artwork in the We’re Still Working exhibition. The panel will highlight the necessity of centering young people’s voices and expertise when advocating for sex worker justice.
Failed Films presents #Fuckyoupayme
Friday, February 17, 6–9pm
The We’re Still Working Project teams up with Failed Films to present an evening of film made by and in celebration of sex workers.
Image credits (from top to bottom): Ali Logout, “LUCID NOON SUNSET BLUSH” image courtesy of the artist; Jacq the Stripper, “Not Like Other Guys,” image courtesy of the artist; Joseph Liatela, “Untitled XIII,” image courtesy of the artist; Rae Threat, “Jiz,” image courtesy of the artist; Laurenn McCubbin, “Backstage,” image courtesy of the artist.