Since 2011, Eric Minh Swenson has created over 400 short films which document artists and their processes, as well as gallery and museum exhibitions. Subjects have included Chris Burden, Peter Shire, Cheech Marin, Lisa Adams, Gisela Colón and Don Bachardy. His work is considered to be the most extensive documentation of the Southern California art scene to date.
12 Inches of Sin V, a film by Eric Minh Swenson | Click Image to View
In addition to his films, mini-documentaries, and photography, Swenson has curated art shows that focus on California artists, “EMS Sex” at 2014 Photo Independent art fair and in spring of 2015 “EMS Nude Survey One” at Jamie Brooks Fine Art, “an eclectic exhibition of sculpture, painting, drawings and photography… removes its overt sexism.” In 2017, EMS Nude Survey Three will collaborate with Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas. Swenson is also a Judge for 12 Inches of Sin.
Day of The Provocateur – Article by Vegas Seven Magazine
“Dr. Henkel, and Sin City, always seem to make a big impact. The 12 Inches show, now in its sixth year, draws hundreds of submissions. Last year she crowd-funded four books of art compiled from past 12 Inches shows; the fifth book comes out this year. Now, the gallerist is taking a shrewdly calculated big chance with Immersive, a daylong “art happening” that spills out of Sin City Gallery into the Arts Factory’s west parking lot on April 9. Hundreds of pieces of sexy and provocative art, from photographs to mixed media pieces, will be on display, complemented by a series of live performers.” From the article of Vegas Seven Magazine > Read More
One Sexologist Quest to Stimulate Las Vegas’ Art Scene
“This truly has been a labor of love for me… and a bit nerve-racking as I want to this to be the first of many annual events to come. I want it to be ‘the Armory in New York meets a smidgen of Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco,’” Dr. Henkel tells The Creator’s Project on it’s article – One Sexologist Quest to Stimulate Las Vegas’ Art Scene.
Dr. Laura Henkel has been known as The curator and specialist in human sexuality helms the Sin City Gallery, which is preparing for an upcoming show of Hajime Sorayama paintings. She also runs 12 Inches of Sin, an annual juried erotic art exhibition. Now, for the competition’s fifth year, an immersive art experience will accompany the annual competition. > Read More
12 Inches of Sin V Best In Show Winner
The illustrator, graphic artist, and draftsman Kei Kusuma lives and works in Surabaya City, Indonesia. Entirely self-taught, Kusuma has come to be admired for his unique way of depicting fragility and eroticism as well as graphic beauty that mirrors the considerable artistic tradition of his home country, particularly in the command of line, curvilinear exposition and sculptural design. Made in 2015, the year of the sheep or ram, The Spoiled Ram is from a series of portraits of lovely young women poised in a world of delicacy, fantasy, intimacy, and ambivalence.
The ram is oft en a symbolic motif in art suggesting rebirth, regeneration, and sexual appetite. The subject, a wide-eyed young woman is surrounded by diaphanous clouds, transparent enough to reveal her full body, and abstract enough to evoke a sense of decorative play. There is a tenderness rather than explicitness of her most intimate parts, as well as a sense of humor and irony personified by the black laughing creature above. Kusuma’s beauty is lush, sinuous and delicate all at once, much is in the detail, a quiet rendering of soft lips contrasts with the linear outlining of the body. The slight of the artist’s hand is readable but entirely in a graceful manner, rather there is a soft gestural naturalness to the highly stylized image. She, The Spoiled Ram , emerges from a tangle of foggy tendrils and white clouds, set against a swirling night black. Two rams follow this sky goddess out of her celestial realm. Who she is remains, a mystery, the representation of the year, of a real person, an Egyptian or Sumerian deity, or an incarnation of a contemporary Hindu Goddess?
Nevertheless, she has a certain magic that seems to exist between the otherworldly and the fruit of the earth.
~ RJH Berland, Art Historian, New York
The power of Sex by Will Roger Peterson, Volume V
The annual juried exhibition 12 Inches of Sin has become a five-star smorgasbord of provocative art. Brought to us by Sin City Gallery, the much-anticipated show has emerged as an iconic must-see exhibit, complete with an accompanying annual and highly collectable art book. In this innovative setting, Dr. Henkel has taken on the challenge of raising questions about what is erotic and what qualifies as art, and the complex relationship and considerable gray area between the two genres.
I have had the great honor of serving four years as a juror for the 12 Inches of Sin competition and fine art exhibition. During my time, the submissions have grown not only in quantity but also in quality and diversity.
In my own life, and as a juror, I have observed that art has a highly personal character and contains its own enigma. Great art is not always that most esteemed in the art world, and in my opinion, it seems that some of the best and most inspiring art has come from the self-taught artists who has yet to be accepted by the art world. And yet, today, in its fifth year, the 12 Inches of Sin exhibition features work that is made by those who are formally trained in the fine arts, as well as those who are self-taught. This diversity is also seen in the references to sexual preferences whether straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, objectification, anamorphic, or just the feeling that it is sexual.
Erotica is a highly charged topic fueled by cultural opinions, based in the secrets of attraction, sexual constructs, religious dogma, social opinion, personal bias, and our own triggers for titillation. Our culture has a way of creating a sense of mystery around the erotic, and this in turn shapes our behavior. For proof of this phenomenon, we can just look to the sheer number of euphemisms we have for coitus. The power of sex and the allure of the erotic are co-opted by advertising while the political system uses ideas of sex to create fear.
Dr. Henkel’s exhibit showcases artistic interpretation of our erotic behavior. It is my opinion that this kind of work helps liberate the phobic veil that contemporary culture manufactures around our sexuality. Please enjoy the show and I hope it will provide each audience member a moment in time to question their opinions about both art and eroticism and all that lies in-between.
~ Will Roger Peterson, Cultural Founder, Burning Man
Trailblazing, a descriptive introduction essay article by Allena Gabosch;
As a repeat member of the jury for 12 Inches of Sin, I am constantly thrilled and amazed by the quality of work, particularly the encapsulation of creativity and the sheer sexiness encapsulated into such a small package. The last three years have just been breathtaking and this year’s submissions are equally impressive.
When the Seattle Erotic Art Festival made its leading edge debut thirteen years ago, there were few opportunities for erotic artists to showcase their work. Erotic art was in fact ghettoized, and hidden. This meant that hundreds, if not thousands of artists were unable to truly fulfill their artistic vision.
However, it turns out that the Seattle Erotic Art Festival was just the fortuitous beginning of a series of innovations that would bring erotic art into the mainstream.
During the early years of the Seattle Festival, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know Dr. Laura Henkel. Laura was instrumental in many ways to the success of the Festival and soon became one of the most prominent advocates for erotic art in the United States. When she opened the award winning Sin City Gallery, she created one of the few art galleries focused on the erotic. Artists no longer had to wait for the handful of festivals and exhibitions to premiere their work. Finally, there was a new sexy venue in Las Vegas, the city renown for its propensity for challenging boundaries and the allure of scandal. In addition to her revolutionary gallery, the always inventive and trailblazing Laura also produced other important events, happenings, and opportunities that foster the community of erotic artists. One of the most ingenious to date is this fantastic juried exhibition 12 Inches of Sin.
For those of you who are unable to get to Las Vegas to view these incredible works in person, Laura has made it possible for you to enjoy 12 Inches of Sin by creating exquisite books.
Art books are not just a venue for finding art to purchase; rather they are a way to have a vignette of art at one’s fingertips. I want to thank Laura for her visionary sense of purpose, and I look forward to the continued innovative and success of the wonderful series 12 Inches of Sin.
~ By Allena Gabosch, Founder and Producer, The Seattle Erotic Art Festival
The Future is Bright, article by Christopher John Ball;
There is no reason—other than a wish to control sexuality and the expression of it—why erotic art cannot be afforded the same status and respect as that which is granted to any other genre. Yet those of us who create erotic art are seen as outsiders and transgressors, cast out into the shadows and kept abject, marginalized and condemned. Our motives as artists are challenged and often baseless accusations are laid at our door to such an extent that, were these applied to any other group, those that made them would be open to charges of bigotry.
Erotic art is judged like no other genre. It is cut no slack; no allowances are made for any transgression. This is unbearable for a genre that by definition must transgress. Erotica finds itself locked away, collected, prized, condemned, loved, loathed and—if we are to believe the religious fundamentalists—blamed for the breakdown of society.
Those that seek to condemn us are also attracted, however. Perhaps there is a sense of guilt or shame, that combined with the realization that the artist has dared to hold up a mirror to the accuser, forces an examination and confrontation with the critic’s own sexuality. As a result, they feel compelled to shut the door upon us. We all bring something of ourselves to the reading of an artwork—as does, of course, the artist. Perhaps there are those who need to question what it is that they bring to the dialogue, and why. The wounds inflicted by the swords of political correctness, prejudice, and intolerance, experienced by so many artists working within the erotic field, often force them to work under a pseudonym. If found out they risk termination from their employment or even a withdrawal of their funding. Just over ten years ago, Paul Woods and I co-founded The Association of Erotic Artists—the aim being to break down many of the prejudices that weigh heavily upon any artist who dares to create work within this particular genre. We can never be too complacent.
Often consumed behind closed doors, whilst hypocritically condemned in the open, the erotic arts can appear to have many more enemies than friends; but they do have a dear friend in Dr. Laura Henkel. As a champion for the erotic arts, Dr. Henkel has, over the years, done much to challenge those who attack the genre. She has also worked hard to promote artists and their work, affording them such opportunities as this annual juried exhibition,
12 Inches of Sin. 12 Inches of Sin is now in the enviable position having unquestionably earned its place within the erotic art world’s calendar. None of this would have been possible but for Dr. Henkel’s drive to innovate and create something unique. With this in mind, I have to say that it was a great honor to be asked, once more, to be both on the Selection Committee for this year’s competition and to write this introduction. It is a role that I take very seriously and one that carries a lot of responsibility, but it is one that is also great fun. I look forward to the next 12 Inches of Sin—by any measure, the future is bright, and the future is erotic!
~ Christopher John Ball, Co-founder of Association of Erotic Artists, London
All art is Erotic, an essay article by Hans Van Der Kamp;
“All art is erotic.” So said Adolf Loos in Ornament and Crime, published in 1908, in a censorious and critical directive aimed at what he perceived to be a mindless, barbaric, excessive eroticism in the work of Viennese Secessionist artists, and although he never named him, the master of modern erotic art and leader of the Secession, Gustav Klimt. Klimt’s unrestrained decorative erotic paintings were often accused as functioning purely as pornography. A long history of sensuality in art includes the iconic Naked Maja by Goya, among many others. As well, the erotically charged pictures of Pablo Picasso have come to speak of a modern taste for cultivated sexuality.
We can see that in our society at the end of the last century, particularly in the digital forum, a strong division has emerged between art that is considered erotic and expressions of art that honored more traditional religiously-based values.
Some Internet censors went so far as to ban any image of Rubens’ famous painting Leda and the Swan (after 1530) because the painting supposedly promoted bestiality. However, today we can say that erotic art has now become more accepted and even perhaps mainstream. This is in part because erotic art’s long-standing marginal status has historically made it more affordable. As well, work in this genre is now becoming the focus of art investors and collectors who believe that the prices of less risqué genres of art had reached the top and were unlikely to continue to accrue value.
~ Hans Van Der Kamp, Founder of AMEA / Museum of Erotic Art, Amsterdam
One Foot Forward, an essay article by Henry S. Rosenthal;
Does size really matter? It is said there are two types of people in the world: size queens and liars. For 12 Inches of Sin, the Sin City Gallery’s inaugural erotic art exhibition juried by an eclectic group of academics, perverts, and academic perverts handpicked by prominent erotologist Dr. Laura Henkel, both size and content are the organizing principles. Attempting to maximize usage of the intimate gallery space, the size constraint for submissions assured there could be a greater number of accepted and exhibited works at Las Vegas’ premiere gallery of erotic art. An equal division of the foot—itself a common fetish object— 12 Inches is a sly allusion to that length to which many aspire, but few attain. Sex, like life, is a game of inches, and so is its depiction in the surprising and remarkable works in Volume I.
As two-hundred-square-foot micro-apartments proliferate in major cities, our private space is shrinking. In polite society, erotic art cannot be openly displayed in the home, office, church, temple, or mosque. It must be hidden in closets, drawers, or buried in the woods, only to be appreciated up close and very personal. These diminutive works may arouse or disturb, and may attract or repulse; it all depends on you. This brings us to the sticky concept of sin, etymologically derived from guilt, misdeed, and error. Though all of the seven deadly sins contribute to Vegas’ nickname, the gallery and this exhibition focus squarely on lust alone. A universal definition of erotic art, negotiating that sharp edge in the shadowy realm differentiating it from pornography, has proved elusive. United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart said that hardcore pornography was hard to define, but “I know it when I see it.” Though he later recanted this position as untenable, he was definitely on the right track. Applying Occam’s razor to this thorny problem, I submit this simple test: if you can masturbate to it, it is porn. Sexual content that does not incite masturbation is erotic. While this test is admittedly highly subjective, it is truly the only one that makes any sense. There is no accounting for taste, or even a taste for accounting. We live in an age where we are defined culturally and individually by Internet porn searches; the data cloud is analyzed in real time, yielding a dynamic map of the global sexual psyche. If we have learned anything, it is that anything can be fetishized.
With the Made in Heaven series, Jeff Koons and Cicciolina smashed the barrier between pornography and fine art. Kim Kardashian’s ubiquitous ass is mainstream entertainment. It is anybody’s game. The images in this exhibition seep into the moist dark cracks of our minds, turning us on, and tuning us in to what each of us brings to the party. Try as you might, you cannot help what you like.
~ By Henry S. Rosenthal, Artist & Art Patron, San Francisco
12 Inches of Sin in Juxtapoz Magazine
We are thrilled to be featured in Juxtapoz Magazine. As one of the leading art magazine in the world, The article features our Call for Art and an incredible film by 12 Inches of Sin judge and Los Angeles documentary filmmaker Eric Minh Swenson in his Take 1: Art Series.
12 Inches of Sin is accepting art submissions for its 6th annual international juried art exhibition through August 1, 2016.
Last year, we received over 300 submissions with artists submitting from new countries as South Korea and Turkey. The range of art is outstanding and we look forward to the many wonderful works of art to be featured in the next 12 Inches of Sin book series.