Art Sophia Giovannitti: between art and sex work

Sophia Giovannitti: between art and sex work

Anna Frattini
sophia giovannitti

For the art world, she is a writer, in publishing a conceptual artist and performer, Sophia Giovannitti seems unreadable. Sustaining herself with sex work as well, the artist presents a particularly unusual profile that makes her a character as complex as she is interesting. On May 30th, Working Girl: on selling art and selling sex was released, a book that tells of her experiences in the art world and sex work, explaining how these two seemingly distant worlds are actually very close. Sophia argues that art and sex occupy mirror positions under the umbrella of capitalism, all due to the fact that we have always been taught that these two realms should not be commodified. Capitalism, in fact, remains one of the most important themes addressed in Sophia Giovannitti’s journey.

In her first solo exhibition titled Untitled (Incall) at Recess Gallery in Brooklyn in 2021, Giovannitti reflects on the non-existence of separation between sex and art. The gallery was transformed into an erotic reading room and a place where sex workers meet their clients, inviting potential collectors to interact with her for the sum of $20,000. The focal point of this performance is precisely money, the tangible flow of capital. All of this follows the logic of porn star Annie Sprinkle, who famously stated that the sex industry funds more artists than the National Endowment for the Arts. There are many references related to this solo exhibition, starting with Andrea Fraser‘s work “Untitled” (2003), where the artist films herself during a sexual encounter with a collector. The objective? To complete a contractual agreement for the acquisition of an artwork. Unlike Fraser, Giovannitti goes further, focusing on the transactional aspect rather than the metaphorical side.

In Collateral, her second solo exhibition in collaboration with DUPLEX, Sophia delves into these themes, ranging from sex to violence, and touching on the artist’s function within the capitalist system and the theme of surveillance. In Incall: Study 2: Contract, on the other hand, the spectator had to contribute a $1,000 bail to participate in this exhibition featuring self-portraits and other photographs taken by Daniel Arnold.

The artist’s research intertwines with the publication of Working Girl, a book born as a series of articles strongly influenced by the personal essay boom, given the strong component of authenticity associated with this format. Sex and capitalism are at the center of this book, contaminating various topics: the sale of her works, her experiences, and her work context – both related to the art world and the world of sex work.

Sophia Giovannitti’s perspective addresses incredibly current topics such as feminism, the legalization of sex work, and the state of the art world, prompting us to reflect and opening a rather revolutionary discussion about how artists choose to sustain themselves.

To learn more about Sophia Giovannitti, here is her Instagram profile.

Written by Anna Frattini
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