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Tasteful erotica.

An exhibition of the point where porn stops and art starts will be held for one night this week in Limassol. ALIX NORMAN finds what it's all about

Summer. The season of sun, sea, sand… and sex. Yes, that last alliterative twirl is there for a reason -- according to a recent study by Markey et al in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, there's a certain 'holiday effect' which causes our mating instincts to kick in. Studying our internet usage, the authors discovered that during the hotter months there's a distinct increase in keyword searches such as 'xxx' as well as increased traffic to dating sites such as And of course it doesn't hurt that summer is not only wedding season (visions of desperate bridesmaids leaping on the nearest eligible bachelor spring to mind) but also the time when we're released from many of the work pressures that otherwise dull our libidos. All of which goes to prove that the organisers of the upcoming exhibition, entitled Sex Erotica, know their market well.

Headlining for one night only, the exhibition is a grown-up look at where pornography ends and art begins. Or vice versa. It's the second of its kind -- the first was held in Larnaca in 2012 -- and is taking place this Saturday at the B Municipal Market (better known as Theatro Ena) in the Old Town of Limassol. "Limassol is an erotic town, it's the perfect place for this sort of exhibition," says Andreas Hadjipavlis, one of the organisers. "It encapsulates the spirit of the town, the open-mindedness that comes with summer."

"Sex and erotica is the sort of subject that's taboo here in Cyprus," adds George Karaviotis, the brains behind the event. "What we're looking at doing is challenging people's expectations. Nobody's really looked at this sort of thing here before, asking the question: Is it pornography or art?" With everything in the exhibition in good taste -- don't imagine this is a darkened room with seedy displays; in fact, the opposite is true -- the evening will include a number of theatrical performances and dance shows -- "sensual, rather than explicit," says George -- as well as the actual exhibition itself.

Comprising a number of titillating artworks, the exhibition has been sourced both from abroad and the local market. With an emphasis on antique erotica, audiences will be able to view everything from old movies -- Modern Times, from the mid-20th century, is mentioned -- to suggestive sculpture, erotic books, photos and sex toys from as early as the 1920s. Also inclusive of a variety of paintings produced by local artists, the highlight of the event will no doubt be the theatrical monologue from talented professional actor, Irina Astaltseva.

Previously performed -- to rave reviews -- at a number of festivals on the island, the monologue discusses relationships, love and life from the perspective of a prostitute. "It's about reality," says Irina. "Not about dreams or what we would like to have in our lives, not what we've been told life should be but what it really is." Given from the perspective of a lady of the night, the performance is an in-depth look at the battle of the sexes and how it relates to love.

"She's talks about the way things really are," Irina explains. "The insecurities women feel: 'Love me because I have a pretty face, love me because I'm slim, love me because I have an expensive car, a large house, a lot of money.' And the self-pity aspect: 'Love me because I'm forty and it's my last chance.' She talks about friends, a bit about politics, about customers she's known, pointing out things about relationships and the truth about how they work. As a character, she's cool and pragmatic -- there's no over-dramatisation of her story -- she's just telling it like it is.

"It's a monologue that challenges our perspectives, especially those of young people -- in many ways it's their first taste of real life," she says, adding that it's designed to make people question longstanding beliefs, and change for their lives for the better.

This, then, is an exhibition that's not only enjoyable, but that will also make you think. "It's somewhere you can go and feel the pressures of taboos lifting for an hour or so," Andreas concludes. "It's a place without judgement and an encouragement to open your mind." And what better time than the balmy summer months to contemplate such liberal views? If August is making you itch in more ways than one, then the Sex Erotica exhibition is definitely the place to be.

The Sex Erotica Exhibition

Starts at 8.30pm on Saturday, August 16, in the B Municipal Market (TheatroEna) in Limassol. Tickets are available at the door and cost e1/410, inclusive of free drink. For further information email or call 96 745920

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Aug 11, 2014
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