This symposium is conceived by Candice Breitz parallel to the exhibition
CANDICE BREITZ: SEX WORK
IN DIALOGUE WITH WORKS BY WILLIAM N. COPLEY FROM THE FRIEDER BURDA COLLECTION
21 September 2018 – 5 January 2019
Museum Frieder Burda | Salon Berlin
Auguststrasse 11 – 13
26 SEPTEMBER 2018
SYMPOSIUM: WE ARE NOT YOUR DEMOISELLES
Candice Breitz (born in Johannesburg, 1972) is a Berlin-based artist. Breitz has been a tenured professor at the HBK Braunschweig
since 2007. Most recently, her work has focused on the conditions under which empathy is produced, reflecting on a media-
saturated global culture in which strong identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread
indifference to the plight of those facing real world adversity. Following the completion of her works Love Story (2016) and TLDR
(2017), she is currently working on the third part of a video trilogy that critically probes the attention economy.
Änne Söll is Professor of Modern Art History with a focus on gender history at the Ruhr University Bochum and a particular interest
in masculinity research. Her last book deals with male portraits of New Objectivity by Otto Dix, Anton Räderscheidt and Christian
Schad. In addition, she has published on the subject of artist magazines, fashion, video art and photography.
Nosipho Vidima is a Human Rights Activist, Black Conscious Feminist, HIV Rights Activist and Women Rights Activist. She currently
works at SWEAT (Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce) as a Human Rights and Lobbying Officer. She believes in
a holistic approach for women to accessing basic and fundamental rights while accessing justice and legal recourse in the legal
system that marginalises most women. “My dream is that one day we live in a society that has equality for all, where women and
girls can be seen as equals in all aspects of life.” She lives and works in Cape Town.
Melissa Gira Grant
Melissa Gira Grant is a senior staff reporter covering criminal justice at The Appeal and the author of Playing the Whore: The Work
of Sex Work (Verso; German edition by Edition Nautilus). She has been a contributing writer at the Village Voice and Pacific
Standard, and her work has also appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, the New York Review of Books,
and The Nation, among others. Her essays are collected in Best Sex Writing, The Feminist Utopia Project, and Where Freedom
Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo.
She was a visiting scholar at The Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York,
and she has been invited to speak on sex work, media, technology, and politics at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society
at Harvard University, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin, and the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, among other institutions.
She lives in New York.
Elke Buhr, born 1971 in Bochum, is a journalist and art critic. She directed the art department of the Frankfurter Rundschau’s
feuilleton and worked as a freelancer for various ARD stations as well as the art magazine ART. In 2008, she became deputy
editor-in-chief of Monopol Magazin, and since May 2016, she has been editor-in-chief of the art magazine. She lives in Berlin.
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Studio, front building, 1st floor
KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e. V., Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin
10h00 – 10h30
10h30 – 11h00
WELCOME & INTRODUCTION
11h00 – 12h00
Looking, Selling, Buying,
Profiting: Art Work and
Sex Work since 1863
The motif of the sex worker appears again and again across the art historical canon. Several
of modernism’s most definitive and widely celebrated masterpieces—including Édouard Manet’s
Olympia (1863) and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)—feature sex workers
prominently, effectively casting the viewer as the buyer of sexual services. This presentation will
consider the heated debates that representations of sex work have prompted, surveying the
recurring appearance of the sex worker as subject within modern art, but also within the practice
of contemporary figures such as Andrea Fraser and Tobias Zielony.
12h00 – 13h00
13h00 – 14h00
SAVE YOUR WHITE TEARS,
GIVE ME FREEDOM
A visit to the Salon Berlin with Candice Breitz, who will introduce her works TLDR (2017) and Sweat
(2018). TLDR is a portrait of a community of sex workers who live and work in Cape Town. The work
grew out of a series of interviews and an intensive workshop with the featured participants,
extending an ongoing conversation between Breitz and SWEAT (Sex Workers Education & Advocacy
Taskforce), the non-profit organisation with which the sex workers are affiliated. Very much a sequel
to Breitz’s Love Story (2016), TLDR invites reflection on the relationship between whiteness, privilege
and visibility; and on the shrinkage of attention spans within an information economy that fetishizes
celebrity and thrives on entertainment. The work points a finger at itself to bluntly ask whether
and how artists living privileged lives can succeed in amplifying calls for social justice and meaning-
fully representing marginalised communities.
14h00 – 15h00
ARE NOT YOUR ART
NOSIPHO ’PROVOCATIVE‘ VIDIMA,
WITH CANDICE BREITZ
Cape Town-based sex work activist Nosipho ‘Provocative’ Vidima (who appears in TLDR and Sweat),
will speak about the challenges facing sex work communities as they fight towards the decriminali-
sation and de-stigmatisation of sex work in South Africa and beyond, offering insight into the
strategies and goals of SWEAT (the Sex Worker’s Education and Advocacy Taskforce).
During this session, Vidima and Breitz will discuss the making of TLDR, revisiting some of the critical
conversations that shaped the work. They will consider the often-fraught relationship between art
and activism, the blindness of privilege and the severe limitations of white feminism. They will also
remember Nokuphila Kumalo, a young woman who was violently murdered by one of her clients in
a suburb of Cape Town in 2013. Kumalo’s senseless death remains emblematic of the extreme
and relentless violence faced by sex workers globally. It was against the backdrop of the vehement
protests that SWEAT staged each time her killer — a celebrated South African artist —appeared in
court (over the course of an absurdly prolonged trial), that TLDR evolved. The work is dedicated
to the memory of Nokuphila Kumalo.
15h00 – 16h00
SEX WORKERS ARE NOT
YOUR RESCUE PROJECT
MELISSA GIRA GRANT
Melissa Gira Grant, journalist and author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, will address
“the celebrity media industrial complex” (a phenomenon that is also explored in TLDR), casting
light on the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between political positions that are anti-sex
worker rights and a mainstream news economy that is driven by celebrity and clicks. She will
also discuss the saviour complex that is integral to much reporting on sex work; the tendency of
journalists to cast themselves as heroes and human rights defenders, as they consistently exclude
the voices of those they seek to rescue, ignoring the power and agency of sex workers.
16h00 – 17h00
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US
An open conversation between Candice Breitz, Elke Buhr, Melissa Gira Grant and Nosipho ‘Provocative’
Vidima, during which questions and contributions from the audience will be welcomed.
REGISTRATION FEE: 10 Euros / 5 euros Students
To be paid at the venue in cash.
Please register early for this event: firstname.lastname@example.org
The number of participants is limited!
Check-in is at 10h00 on 26 September 2018 at the venue:
KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Studio, front building, 1st floor
Please note that the symposium will be held in English.
MELISSA GIRA GRANT