It’s an unlikely neighborhood for galleries at first glace — there are large discount stores on the corner, you walk by a strip club called LSD in pulsing purple neon, make your way past the hookers working the corner of Kurfurstenstrasse and Potsdamer Strasse, and try and figure out where all the art is.
But only a block away, on Pohlstrasse, is the Tanja Wagner Gallery, for starters.
These are not the creative, acrobatic pole dances taught in sports clubs; the movements of these women — the REAL professional pole dancers — have the fluidity not of creativity but of survival.
One of the things that strikes me most is how they are.
On one wall is a cluster of photos and texts and electrocardiographs — the spiky lines of living hearbeats, some thick and steady, others moving in delicate bursts.
The photos are of women, of various ages, ample bosoms, hand tattoos, rings on swollen fingers with painted nails. They are each in the act of holding a baby doppler, an ultrasound device for monitoring heartbeats in the womb, but here being used to listen and record the hearbeats of these women. The German artist Anna Witt, in her second solo exhibit at Tanja Wagner, and who has also, no doubt, made her way past teh sex shops and prostitutes many times on her way to the gallery, decided to look for the art on the streets instead.
The photos displayed on the wall document those recordings, the women holding the baby doppler which, by the way, is pink and white and bears the product name, not unironically, Angelsounds.
The anti-porn authority in Beijing has probed several internet video player service providers for spreading lewd videos, including Ingkee, Doshow and Huajiao, Xinhua news agency reported.
While I never saw any of the filming and very rarely met any o f the performers, I… One time at the porn office, there was a young girl — about 19 — who had “auditioned” for a role in the producer’s next film, and needed a lift back to her youth hostel. While one part of my heart was breaking for this girl, the other part was hardening.
Because the producer knew I lived in the same part of town, he asked me to give her a ride, and I obliged. I asked her why she was wanted to act in porn films. She sat in my passenger seat in her very short skirt, and every time she shifted her legs, or turned to face me, knowing what she had just been through, NOT knowing if she was wearing underwear, I wondered with increasing disgust whether she was going to stain my seat. But these women often come from bourgeois backgrounds, have educations, and through stripping or pole dancing or working for an escort service, they are exploring their sexuality and systems of power. I don’t have the strength to sell my body for sex, and still buy groceries and have friendships and exercise and care for myself and keep myself alive. But then I come from one of those bourgeois backgrounds that so often serves as a safety net of choice…
And I am really resisting the urge to make that most obvious of comparisons of that dancer’s pole to a male body part, by the way.
But I would say that the simplicity, the obviousness of it here serves the greater piece, it underscores what we’re watching and why we’re watching it, and reinforces the environments and conditions of both the strippers and the streetwalkers with that simple, phallic statement.At the time, I drove this avocado green 1976 Chevy Malibu. She’s a pretty girl, very quiet and it seemed a little shell shocked over what she had just done. But it’s still a choice — they don’t have to let people whoop and call them names, or stuff money into their panties, or grope them, or gangbang them. For so many other sex workers, though, it’s a necessity. but more often is a veil, a curtain to be drawn over inconvenient truths.