PORN 101: CANCELLED
By Joseph Michael Budka
"Body Language," a course which focused on sexuality in art and known in SAIC student lingo as the "Porn Class,"
was omitted from the 2002 course offerings and is making at least two students curious as to just why the course is no longer offered.
A part of the SAIC spring course offerings for the last two years, "Body Language," a video production class originally devised and
taught by Vanalyne Green, was designed to examine sexuality in art. From Michelangelo and Rodin, to Annie Sprinkle and Hugh Hefner,
the class examined works that address nudity, sexuality, gender, beauty, and relationships to understand what role such works play
in ancient and contemporary culture. Students also had the choice to make and present work of their own for critique. The course
tried to assist students in discovering "What is the line between porn and art? Is there a line? Should there be a line?"
Monashee Frantz and Stacy Goldate, who took the class in 2001, have been speaking with the Film, Video and New Media department and
the SAIC administration to find out why the class was not offered this year. They found that neither Green nor DeGenevieve were
available to teach the class this year, and no other professors submitted a proposal to teach the class.
However, the two also noted that the department did not proactively
seek out another professor to teach the course this spring.
To express their exasperation, Frantz and Goldate made posters during the Fall 2001 semester that read, "Come and see the work from
the class that got cancelled!" to simultaneously protest its unexplained absence from the Spring 2002 course listing and to advertise
an event at the Leather Archives exhibiting student work from the previous semester.
The posters placed famous sexualized works of art - Gustave Courbet's "Origin of the World" and Balthus' "Theresa" alongside a
crossed-out syllabus for the course.
Controversy surrounding this course actually began to bubble up at the end of the Spring 2001 semester, when the Chicago Reader ran an
article that mentioned students from the class were working on a film outside of school and were looking for actors.
"The wording implied that they were actively seeking performers," said Barbara DeGenevieve, who taught the course in 2001.
"It was feared by the administration that men would come to the screening looking for the porn tryouts. The administration
decided to only allow people with Art Institute IDs into the showing, excluding the public. Some of the students felt this
was censorship," DeGenevive added.
Other little details began to spring up, further tainting the course, such as the possibility that students were being misled by
the syllabus and course description, which didn't mention that students would be required to look at sexually explicit material.
The closest the description gets to an explanation is this: "This is a course about creating a language for what the body knows
by using sound, video and performance. It will be a production class in which the aim is to produce work that gives voice to the body's
moods, resistances, desires and energies."
"There was a video of work from our class circulating through the administration," said Frantz. "I'm sure it was being looked at as
a problem to deal with, not as a work of art."
And after all the confusion the class was dropped from the Spring 2002 course offerings.
"There was no communication from the administration to the students on what had happened to the class," said Frantz.
"We did the poster project to kick up awareness of the class among the students."
Goldate added, "We are afraid the class will just disappear, that new students will never have this same opportunity."
Goldate and Frantz are working with the Film, Video, and New Media department to bring the "Body Language" course back to SAIC next year.
"It may just be a matter of changing the syllabus and finding someone willing to teach the course. There has been a lot of anger, but things
are happening. We have been able to show our work, the class has met twice, and there is a dialogue happening. The ball is rolling," Goldate said.