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A sex-positive art and pornography festival is coming to London

A sex-positive art and pornography festival is coming to London
Marnie Scarlet by Alistair Veryard

A three-day long art festival celebrating sex-positive, queer and feminist pornography is coming to London. Filmmaker and fem pornography director Lidia Ravviso (pictured below) tells us why she co-founded it.   

 

Tell us about Uncensored Festival. 
Lidia Ravviso: ‘It’s a three-day immersive experience exploring pornography at the intersection of art and activism and showcasing just how broad and diverse pornography is. More than 30 artists, sex practitioners and activists from the UK and abroad are involved in our programme of film events, performances, workshops, talks and a mixed-media exhibition.’

What does a ‘sex-positive’ festival actually mean?
‘It means letting people experience their sexuality in a culture of openness and consent. We want visitors to feel safe to discuss the complexities of pornography and experiment with their interest in erotica.’

What are your personal highlights?
‘We’re presenting two film premieres: a documentary on female pleasure produced and directed by Erika Lust – one of the biggest independent makers of feminist porn in Europe, and a short film by  Shu Lea Cheang, is representing Taiwan at the Venice Biennale. There’ll also be talks from Vex Ashley, creator of the amazing [adult film project] “Four Chambers” and  Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, a pornographer and dominatrix, who’ll speak about pornography legislation with Myles Jackman, Britain’s top obscenity lawyer.’   

 

Why is an art festival exploring pornography and activism needed?
‘When I met the festival’s co-founders, we shared concerns about the negative implications censorship has on the pornography industry. In 2014, certain sexual acts were banned from being depicted in online adult content produced in the UK. Legislation keeps changing, which creates problems for independent pornography producers, online sex workers and the public, who will eventually be asked to verify their age before accessing online pornography. We wanted to counteract this and create a festival challenging what’s offensive in pornography.’

Uncensored is happening after the London Porn Film Festival was forced to relocate due to complaints. What sort of reception have you had?
‘So far the feedback is positive, not only from communities fighting against censorship in pornography but also from people unfamiliar with non-traditional pornography who are curious to learn more.’

Why does porn remain so divisive?
‘Many critics don’t make a distinction between traditional pornography – lacking ethical and cinematic values – and the adult cinema challenging this vision. I’m glad to see how many young and diverse pornographers are challenging traditional male-oriented adult entertainment.’

 

 

What’s your response to the idea that ‘feminist pornography’ is an oxymoron? 

‘We disagree with this viewpoint and it’s a very old one. We’re critical of sexism in the mainstream pornography industry – a critique that would be impossible without feminism. But we don’t dismiss pornography. We grew up watching pornography, enjoying pornography and consider it a very rich genre that gives a lot of space for artistic experimentation.’ Interview by Alexandra Sims    

Uncensored Festival is taking place between three different venues in Hackney Wick, The Old Baths and The Yard Theatre, from Friday May 17 to Sunday May 19. Tickets can be bought to individual events and day and weekend passes cost £15-£50. Find out more at www.uncensoredfest.com.

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