KC nOna, Mechelen, Belgium
November 2001

Dirk Verstockt, artistic director of Kc nOna invited me to be guest curator of a new arts festival Porn Ar(t)ound the World, a twelve-day event that would draw from our mutual interest in pornography as a commentary on global politics and digital aesthetics. As we wrote in our first press release: "KC nOna will be hosting national and international artists for whom sexuality and eroticism are the main sources of inspiration of their work. In Belgium, eroticism and porno are only taken into account when they are artistically problematic. The mere pleasurable aspect seems to be of minor importance to the artistic intelligentsia, who are convinced to be sexually emancipated and thereby not in need of any sexual-artistic expression forms"

The preparations were symbiotic and high-spirited, the festival itself came together beautifully, yet soon exploded with 'virgin' energy, a lack of recognition within the community, robust foreplay from the extreme right and city officials, highly ambitious production schedules, expensive computer technologies, an almost sick curiosity from the mass media.

The festival opened with Shu Lea Cheang's sci-fi porn movie I.K.U., a screening that was followed the next day by Annie Sprinkle's performance piece Annie Sprinkle's Herstory of Porn Sprinkle also held a workshop for women exploring energy orgasm in Super Sex Technologies.

Several days later the festival hosted Belgium's premier screening of home-made erotic/pornographic videos in Show Your favorite Porn/Bring Your Own Porn. This event equally caused a big hula hula in the media. It was followed by a double-bill of performances by artists Ricky Seabra and Buelens Pauline vzw (Marijs Boulogne and Manah de Pauw)

Meanwhile, artists Francesca da Rimini (assisted by Agnese Trocchi and Dale Nason) and Shu lea Cheang initiated a four-day workshop with university students. Da Rimini's workshop Strange Packets of Desire was held in a computer lab and focused on electronically mediated sexualities. Shu Lea Cheang's Writing for pornography encouraged film and theater students to write pornographic (screen) plays.

The next day cable&noise wizards Dorkbot tested out a version of the game Twister. Zooten Genant arrived from the Netherlands to carry out their foray into cybersex with Gaze Back: Surfing Precious Porn Waves. This performance, however, was shut down by the organizers upon advice of the lawyers after 60% of the artworks had been seized from the museum the day before. The next day we closed the festival with a voice- performance by Marijs Boulogne and Manah de Pauw, performances of Digital Genital and Home Tape Club by ZootenGenant, an overview of Yoshie Suzuki's Kissing Project and student performances that had come out of workshops.

Anybody closely related to the festival was fried at that point.

A rather large Visual and Media Arts exhibit opened during the first week in the foyer of KC nOna and a joining gallery of the Cultural Center of Mechelen. The exhibit featured paintings by Piepke, a video and photographs by Annie Sprinkle, photographs from I.K.U. and a digital media piece Expand by Shu lea Cheang a digital media piece Dollspace by Francesca da Rimini, photo-collages by Tom van Ghent, the video Orgasmic Faces by Marijs Boulogne, performance-photographs of Meat Sexu Taco by ZootenGenant and a video-installation of their web-based performance piece 8X8X64 Fucking Retreat, my installation piece Sexy Flowers, photographs by Yoshie Suzuki and Adam Zaretsky, a video of Suzuki's Kissing Project and their enema-video Squart. Finally, a circumcision triptych by Ricky Seabra.

The Belgian intelligentsia and mass media took pleasure in intervening in the festival, surprising us frequently with loud and unnanounced visits, rescripting the festival by focusing on provocative and 'illegal' sex-events, instigating debates around porn and the destruction of art and humanity. Within this media turmoil, the hard work of the artists and KC nOna production teams largely went unnoticed. After the festival, I wrote my own commentary in the essay Black Magic Doesn't Swallow.

This account is fragmented and incomplete. I hope that other artists and intellectuals will write their own reactions. Feel free to react to the materials or request further information, by sending me an email (kjacobs@cityu.edu.hk) or posting a message on the messageboard elsewhere in this site.