Interview with Chris Phillips of Pornceptual
by Charlotte Osinga
A few years ago when I was working in an art gallery in Berlin, I invited a photographer of an important art blog to come to one of our openings. On the opening night he arrived dressed in fashionable Berlin-black with a beautiful faux-fur hat: this was my first encounter with Chris Philips, a young photographer from Brazil, and co-founder of Pornceptual, a project presenting pornography as queer, diverse and inclusive in the shape of an art platform that wants to de-contextualize pornography in its usual sense and show that an explicit sexual content can be considered art.
It all started as a personal project back when Chris was still living in Brazil.
As a beginning erotic photographer, he was looking for a platform to express himself with his work. He further developed the idea together with one of his best friends and soon they connected with people that had similar interests. “It was then that we realized it shouldn’t be something personal, but rather a collective of artists that would contribute with different perspectives. I would say that the main philosophy is to invite people to get creative about their sexuality and experiment with pornography, avoiding the usual representations of the mainstream pornographic industry.”
They soon expanded into parties and when the project moved to Berlin, probably one of the world’s most sexually free cities, it proved to be the perfect homebase for an initiative such as Pornceptual. “Here is where can we find a mix of German FKK (Freikörperkultur) tradition and an ultra-liberal club scene, which makes for the perfect combination to invite people to get naked, either when posing for the project or joining our events.”
The events are an important part of the project: “It’s when a bigger audience can collaborate with us. It’s a platform to invite different artists – including musicians, art performers, video makers and other kind of visual artists – to show their pornographic artwork to the public.” The events, hosted monthly in different cities all over the world are classified as ‘queer erotic parties’ which means people are encouraged to get naked and wear fetish wears but they welcome a very mixed crowd.
“The Pornceptual parties are not about sex, they are about sexual freedom.”
By labelling their project as pornographic they constantly have to deal with censorship, especially online, as well as with prejudice and judgement, which for them confirms that they are indeed doing something that’s still relevant. “I believe that sexuality plays a vital role in society and it’s definitely the most common theme in contemporary culture. At the same time, it is restricted and controlled by traditional views, religion and social norms. We want to show that the impact of pornography can also be a positive one.”
In accordance with these views they recently launched the first Issue of the Pornceptual Magazine: in a time where a lot of traditional nude publications – such as Playboy magazine and even the Pirelli calendar – have stepped away from their concept and decided to ban nudity, Pornceptual decided to go against this trend and bring their concept to the printed market.
It’s something that appears to be characteristic of Pornceptual, always striving for uniqueness in a world where everything seems to already exist. “I believe that there is something special about what we are proposing since we are really in between different creative fields.” With this mindset and the amount of passion put into the project Pornceptual is bound to keep growing.