The Crow here for c4ocradio.com
The first time Zoe Ligon a sex educator and artist, watched porn she was searching the now defunct file-sharing program LimeWire for the music video to The Black Eyed Peas’ 2005 hit “My Humps.” “It was seven girls on their hands and knees and this guy was spanking them like a xylophone,” she recalled with impressive detail. Ligon found her fair share of humping, but no Fergie. “I remember thinking, woah, I wasn’t meant to see that. It was shocking, but I wasn’t offended or anything. I’d just never seen people behaving in such a playful manner ― while nude.” Today, Ligon is a sex educator, teaching young women and men how to seek pleasure through sex. She also owns a “no-nonsense” sex toy store based in Detroit called Spectrum Boutique. And when she’s not spreading the gospel about the joys of strap-ons or the malleability of sexual identity, she makes art. We may never know the anonymous individuals involved in that fateful xylophone orgy, but if they’re somehow responsible for introducing Ligon to the world of alternative sexuality, we should be grateful for their work.
Ligon makes collages, cutting and pasting scenes from vintage porn magazines to transform cheesy and sleazy smut into less explicit, but more erotic, works of art. Clicking through an endless stream of unclothed bodies smacking up against each other, you can start to feel numb, porn, for all its attempts to be shocking and explicit, can, over time, become kind of a bore for those who spend a lot of time looking at it. Ligon’s images, however, are strange, unsettling and alien. They replace the female form with pure shape and color, leaving the viewer in a space between arousal and confusion. Her recent exhibition, titled “Woman with the Good Meat Removed,” at Brooklyn’s Superchief Gallery conjures, quite viscerally, women whose bare flesh have been sliced out and replaced with flat, uniform hues. “When my work makes someone feel uncomfortable, I like for the person to explore where that unease is coming from and why they feel uncomfortable looking at that piece,” she said. challenging them to realize at which point they become rattled, even if no actual skin is on view. “That’s probably the biggest experience people can take away from my work.”
The Crow is a contributing writer for c4ocradio.com/listenlive
Contributors to this article: