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.